Hospital defends safety closure after patient is shut out

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A MAN has who fell on ice outside a hospital’s new accident and emergency unit was told he had to go to a hospital 10 miles away – because he arrived an hour before it opened.

Christopher Young, 57, blasted the “stupid” situation after he revealed how he slipped on ice and cut his head open just yards from Pontefract Hospital.

When he entered the building at 6.45am, he discovered the brand new A&E facility would not be open until 8am and he had to be taken by ambulance to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Pontefract Hospital’s £60m building only opened in January this year before the controversial decision was made to shut the A&E department overnight because of too few resources.

Mr Young said: “It’s stupid that I couldn’t be treated at Pontefract. I think the nurses were embarrassed to have to call an ambulance to take me elsewhere.

“If we have a winter anything like last year, there’s going to be a lot of people who could need to have a hospital close by in icy conditions.

“I have never had to use the A&E department at Pontefract before and I am usually very sturdy on my legs, but it just goes to show you never know when you are going to need the facilities that are just sitting there.

“They could end up with a death on their hands if they have to send someone with major injuries to Wakefield just because they aren’t open yet. It’s ridiculous.”

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust decided to close the A&E department at Pontefract between 10pm and 8am because of “staff shortages” and the restricted hours came into operation on November 1 – a move slammed by Shadow Home Secretary and local MP Yvette Cooper, who called it “an outrageous betrayal of Pontefact people”.

Tracey McErlain-Burns, the Trust’s chief nurse and director of patient experience, said: “The decision to temporarily close the emergency department at Pontefract overnight was reluctantly taken by the trust board as we cannot provide enough experienced medical staff to run three emergency departments safely.

“That decision remains under review and we continue to try to recruit to vacant posts.

“I am sorry to hear that Mr Young is unhappy with his care and pleased to note that we provided assistance to safely transfer him to Pinderfields Hospital.”