Housing plan for hospital site facing controversial shake-up

A demonstration against the downgrading of services at Dewsbury Hospital
A demonstration against the downgrading of services at Dewsbury Hospital
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Swathes of a Yorkshire hospital’s site will be sold off for new housing in the wake of controversial plans to cut key services.

The Yorkshire Post can reveal health chiefs are drawing up plans to sell off land at Dewsbury and District Hospital as part of a project which will see full A&E and maternity services and 250 beds axed.

The measures come as part of a major overhaul of services for more than half a million people in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury where the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been mired in debts for a decade.

Final figures reveal the trust ran up a deficit of £19.2 million in 2013-14 and it is expected to be £17.1m in the red in the 12 months to March amid predictions it will not move into the black until 2016-17.

Bosses at the trust have commissioned a market analysis of areas for land disposal on the Dewsbury site which are suitable for housing development. Among the buildings which will be declared surplus are the Bronte Tower and Staincliffe Wing.

Under plans for the site, “blue light” emergency care will be centred at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, which will also provide maternity services for women at risk of complications.

A total of 254 beds will go at Dewsbury as the hospital becomes a centre mainly for planned care, with an emergency unit mainly for walking wounded, while a midwife-led birth centre will be set up. An extra 88 beds will be created at Pinderfields, leaving a net loss of 166 beds across the trust.

Trust chief executive Stephen Eames said: “Dewsbury and District Hospital is central to our plans for the future delivery of healthcare. We are investing £20m over the next three years to make it a vibrant hospital, delivering excellent quality services for local people in a modern environment.

“The number of people treated at Dewsbury will rise from around 128,000 now to 134,000 in 2017. The range of surgical specialties available will also increase, and, because more care will be provided as short stay surgery and outpatient care, fewer beds will be needed.

“As part of our investment, the trust will look to sell some of the older parts of the site including the Bronte Tower and Staincliffe Wing, which are expensive to maintain and will become surplus to requirements.

“There are a number of options under consideration, including residential housing, and we will look to reinvest the revenue from any sale of land back into local health care.

“The changes for Dewsbury and District Hospital are part of a bigger programme of transformation across the local health system which will lead to more care being available close to people’s homes reducing the need for treatment in hospital.”