While reducing the number of patients using hospitals beds through investing in community and GP services is undoubtedly a laudable aim, the targets being put forward to justify cutting emergency services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary generate serious concern.
An independent review of the reconfiguration plans obtained by The Yorkshire Post reveal that their success relies on preventing 250 patients a week from needing hospital beds, equivalent to an 18 per cent reduction in admissions over five years.
In theory, if this could be achieved it would save the NHS money and deliver better services to patients, who in general prefer to avoid lengthy stays in hospital in favour of treatment closer to home.
But the worry is whether the target is realistic and what the repercussions will be should the aim not be achieved.
The NHS Transformation Unit has warned the target is a “challenging one” and that there have been few places in the UK where such reductions in hospital admissions have been achieved.
Local hospital bosses insist it can be achieved but equally accept themselves that meeting the aim requires them to become one of the best-performing NHS organisations in the country.
Campaigners say they are yet to be provided with evidence of anywhere else in the country where such a change has been successfully delivered and fear that if the plans fail, patients will be left with no choice but to travel considerable distances for care at other hospitals.
The proposals have already been referred to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt by Kirklees and Calderdale councillors who are not convinced the plans are deliverable.
Given the potentially serious consequences of failure, the Government must seriously assess whether this target can actually be met.