Hundreds of patients go private following shortages at troubled NHS trust

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HALF of patients requiring hip and knee surgery at a crisis-hit Yorkshire NHS trust underwent operations in the private sector owing to a shortage of capacity in its hospitals, officials have revealed.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs NHS services in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury, will run up a £26m deficit in 2012-13 and has been warned it could go into administration unless it turns its dire financial position around.

In an effort to make better use of its hospitals, health chiefs are planning a number of changes to key services. These include making Pontefract Hospital a centre for planned orthopaedic surgery for patients in the Wakefield district, with Dewsbury also developed as a centre for planned surgery. Specialist orthopaedic work would continue at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

The move will allow more work to be carried out in the trust’s hospitals after it revealed that of 860 people from the area who underwent hip and knee replacements last year, 431 were treated in the private sector.

Under further proposals, eye care for people requiring glaucoma, medical retina and cataract services would move from Pinderfields to Pontefract, with services for those with macular degeneration moving to Pinderfields from Wakefield’s Clayton Hospital, which is due to close. A 12-bed rehabilitation service for people with complex neurological disabilities would also be moved from Pinderfields to Dewsbury.

An extra outpatient service for people from Kirklees and Calderdale would be provided at Dewsbury.

Trust interim chief executive Stephen Eames said: “These are very important changes we are proposing and will pave the way for us to develop centres of excellence in ophthalmology, orthopaedics and neuro-rehabilitation.

“They will improve the efficiency of the services and help us to make much better use of the hospital buildings we have available.”

Health chiefs say they want to hear from the public about the changes by August 16.