FAMILY doctors are set to give crucial backing to plans which would see a Yorkshire town lose full maternity and A&E services.
Campaigners last night reacted furiously after it emerged GPs are supporting an option that would see both key services downgraded at Dewsbury and District Hospital.
The moves are part of a massive reorganisation of services run by the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust which faces financial collapse unless it cuts spending on hospitals in Dewsbury, Wakefield and Pontefract which are losing £100,000 a day.
Two options have been drawn up which would both lead to full maternity care being withdrawn from Dewsbury where a midwife-led service would instead be provided for low risk births.
But the second option would also mean full 24-hour A&E care being axed to be replaced by an urgent care service. More seriously sick and injured people would be treated at Wakefield – although the measure would also have knock-on impacts on casualty units Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield.
Health chiefs will approve a business case for the two options next month but a report to the Mid Yorkshire board yesterday revealed GPs in Wakefield and North Kirklees have expressed support for the second option providing certain conditions are met.
Coun Paul Kane (Labour, Dewsbury East), who resigned from Kirklees Council’s health scrutiny committee to fight the loss of services, accused doctors of ignoring the strength of opposition in the area where tens of thousands of people have already signed petitions against the changes.
“Dewsbury in particular has been let down by GPs on this. They know the depth of feeling in the town,” he said.
“This has just stabbed us in the back. The consultants and GPs say this is the best way forward but it isn’t because it doesn’t deliver a first class service to the people of Dewsbury.”
He said the Mid Yorkshire trust was paying out nearly 10 per cent of its income on a private finance intiative deal for new hospitals in Wakefield and Pontefract – leaving Dewsbury to pay the price.
In a joint statement, GPs David Kelly, of NHS North Kirklees clinical commissioning group (CCG), and Phil Earnshaw, of NHS Wakefield CCG, said they expected the business case to say the second option was the best way forward.
“We are absolutely clear that the way hospital services are delivered needs to change so that they are both affordable and clinically safe and that more services need to be community based,” they said.
“The financial problems the trust faces are well documented and, like so many other places in the country, a re-organisation of services is a vital part of plans for achieving financial balance.
“We realise that service changes are often viewed as ‘cuts’ even when they deliver better patient outcomes, but we need to act urgently to maintain and improve local services.”
Stephen Eames, interim chief executive at the Mid Yorkshire trust, said: “Our aim is to reorganise services to provide safe, good quality care which is financially sustainable for the longer term. Doing nothing is not an option.
“Whilst we are talking openly about our long term future, I must stress that nothing has been decided yet and we aim to start a formal public consultation in January next year on our proposals.”