PERFORMANCE: A West Yorkshire hospital looking into the possibility of using Army medics to restore a 24-hour emergency service has now rejected the idea.

Last week, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper described the fact Pontefract Hospital, which is in her constituency, had been forced to consider bringing in the military as “deeply worrying”.

But on Tuesday Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which runs the hospital, said the idea had been ruled out.

A spokesman said: “We can now confirm that although some very early stage, exploratory conversations did take place, these did not lead anywhere and there is no question of military doctors staffing the department.”

The A&E department at Pontefract Hospital was closed at night last November after the trust failed to recruit enough doctors to staff it properly.

The nearest 24-hour emergency department is at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, which is nine miles away.

The spokesman said: “Local people have made it very clear to us that they want the department to fully reopen, and our willingness to consider all options - even those which seem out of the ordinary - is evidence of our desire to find a solution.

“We will continue to ensure that local people receive safe, effective emergency care when required, either at Pontefract between 8am and 10pm, or at Pinderfields 24 hours a day. And we will continue to seek a solution that will enable us to extend the opening hours in Pontefract as soon as we can do so with confidence that patient safety is assured.”

Last week, trust medical director Professor Tim Hendra explained how there had only been “very early exploratory conversations with the Army”.

Prof Hendra said the move came following a review last month by the trust, the strategic health authority and the primary care trust to make sure every possible option had been looked at in terms of reopening the unit overnight.