First appeared in the Dewsbury Press here
No one would deny the Trust Jules Preston chairs is under enormous financial pressure, but it is abundantly clear that the decision to significantly downgrade Dewsbury Hospital is not in the best interests of the residents of Dewsbury and surrounding communities.
Removing 69% of the in-patient beds, reducing A&E capacity by 40%, closing numerous wards and taking away maternity choices for 2,500 women a year will be a huge blow to a town which already has higher-than-average health inequalities and high infant mortality.
Furthermore, there is clear evidence Pinderfields Hospital is unable to cope with the existing patient flow, with the doors having been literally closed on 146 occasions over the last two years due to over capacity.
As Mr Preston will no doubt be aware, we are waiting to understand the full implications of the downgrades to neighbouring hospitals which will undoubtedly put pressure on services which are already struggling to cope.
We have still not seen any firm commitment or concrete plans regarding the Care Closer to Home proposals and remain very concerned that the proposals tabled will adversely affect patient care.
As a previous employee of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust I am yet to speak to a member of staff who believes that these plans will benefit patients. In fact, a significant number of staff whom I have spoken with believe these plans are very dangerous.
Front line clinicians are against these proposals. Morale within the organisation is at an all-time low, as demonstrated by the recent staff survey.
We would like to see a solution which works for everyone, but these changes will cost lives. We will keep making the argument against them and will stand up for the best interests of local people.