STRUCTURE: Plans to reconfigure Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust’s services have been referred to the health secretary.

Under the Meeting the Challenge set of proposals, the accident and emergency departments at Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals will be downgraded and only deal with minor cases, as patients with more serious needs are sent to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Meanwhile, consultant-led maternity care for mothers with high-risk pregnancies will only be available at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Dewsbury will gain a new paediatric assessment unit for children who need to be admitted for a few hours for tests or observations and primary care services will be added to its A&E department.

Wakefield and Kirklees councils’ health scrutiny joint committee referred the proposals to Jeremy Hunt.

In a letter to Mr Hunt, chair Betty Rhodes said the committee “does not take the referral lightly and sees this as a last resort”.

She noted the “significant opposition to the proposals, particularly in the North Kirklees area”. Seventy eight per cent of people in North Kirklees who responded to the consultation on the reconfiguration expressed concerns about it and 51 per cent disagreed completely with the proposals.

“There still remains sufficient doubt to provide the necessary assurance and confidence that the proposals are in the best interests of the local population,” Cllr Rhodes added.

The proposals have been backed by the Wakefield and North Kirklees clinical commissioning groups.

David Kelly, clinical leader of North Kirklees CCG, said he recognised “these changes could be received as a downgrading of our hospital,” but “to do nothing is not the right option”.

“We got problems with the quality of our services locally and with the financial viability of our trust,” he added.