Healthwatch- keeping an eye on your NHS

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How can health and social care services continue to meet the needs of the population while facing a huge funding shortfall?

That’s the crisis facing NHS hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes.

Nationally a multi-billion pound black hole in funding has emerged over the next five years and changes are being made to balance the books.

That’s why the Reporter Series is launching a new initiative to keep an eye on the NHS for our readers. We’ll be asking whether political decisions by the government on the health service are in your best interests.

And we’ll examine whether changes to your hospital services are making patient care safe.

Over the next few months Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust is planning to centralise A&E care for the most seriously ill patients at Pinderfields Hospital. Dewsbury’s A&E will be downgraded to an urgent care centre.

It follows a centralisation of maternity services for complex births, also at Pinderfields.

Similar A&E changes are planned in Calderdale and Huddersfield. Calderdale Royal Hospital will become the main A&E for the two towns after Huddersfield’s existing infirmary is replaced with a smaller site.

Nationally, five-year Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) have also been drawn up. West Yorkshire and Harrogate’s STP plan shows that there will be a budget gap of more than £1bn in five years if no changes are made.

Further changes to hospitals could be made. Health chiefs say it will make patients safer. But NHS campaigners claim the five-year plan will slash services and open up the NHS to privatisation.

To share your concerns about the NHS e-mail don.mort@jpress.co.uk or call 01924 433013.