Council defends hospital

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COUNCILLORS from all parties have united to defend services at Dewsbury and District Hospital.

During a full council meeting, they unanimously passed a motion asking the trust running the hospital to rethink potential changes to maternity and children’s services.

Coun Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton), one of four councillors who put forward the motion, said: “Each child’s death is a tragedy and we need to do all we can to provide a service that reduces those family tragedies.”

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust is currently asking for views on a series of potential changes to the services it offers at its Dewsbury, Wakefield and Pontefract hospitals.

In October, the trust said it was considering five options to change or moving up to nine services. Under the proposals children who need to be in hospital for more than 24 hours would have to go to Pinderfields in Wakefield, as Dewsbury would lose children’s inpatient care.

In three of the options, consultant-led maternity care for mums-to-be needing specialist care could also be stopped at Dewsbury.

The hospital would still offer midwife-led care, but higher risk cases would go to Pinderfields.

The motion, put forward by the Liberal Democrats, said the council had serious concerns about the potential changes.

It said that patients and visitors having to travel further to access services caused inconvenience and distress and said there was a clear need for consultant-led maternity care because of the high infant death rates in North Kirklees.

It asked the council’s chief executive to write to the trust to highlight concerns. In addition, a scrutiny panel will be asked to examine the plans.

Coun Khizar Iqbal (Dews South, Con) said: “They are two very key and significant services for local people. The challenge here is to protect local services for local people. If they’re saying specialist services should be in one place, why can’t it be Dewsbury?”

Coun Pinnock, Lib Dem group leader, said: “This proposal would mean that Kirklees, with a population of 400,000, will have no consultant-led maternity unit in its district. None of that adds up to a good quality local service.”

Mike Potts, chief executive of NHS Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield district, said the primary care trust working with councils on the plans and that there would be plenty of opportunities for people to have their say on them.