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'Over Burdened' Bradford Hospital Could Put Patients At 'Significant Risk'

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It's after an application for 41 new homes in the area was submitted to Bradford Council earlier this year.

A local health trust has said it is “over burdened” and “operating at full capacity” – and highlighted the pressures it will face to deal with a rising populations in the area.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust has laid out the impacts on its system new housing developments can bring a response to a proposed new housing development in Denholme.

It highlights the strained position the trust is already in, and how new, large scale housing developments could impact services in the future.

The plans, to build 41 homes on the former Foreside Mill site off Halifax Road, were submitted by Stirling Investment Properties earlier this year, and Bradford Council has yet to make a decision on the plans.

The Trust, which runs Airedale District General Hospital, has written to Bradford Council to urge them to include money for local hospital beds in any conditions if they approve the homes.

Under planning laws, Council’s can require developers to sign a “106 agreement” which requires them to contribute to local services such as schools and leisure facilities based on the size and impact of the development.

In its response to the application, the Trust is asking for a contribution of at least £3,724 to help provide services that could help it cope with the increase in the local population. It is not, however, objecting to the plans.

The Trust’s response to the application says: “Across England, the number of acute beds is one-third less than it was 25 years ago, but in contrast to this the number of emergency admissions has seen a 37 per cent increase in the last 10 years. The number of emergency admissions is currently at an all-time high.

“The Trust’s hospital is now at full capacity and there are limited opportunities for it to further improve hospital capacity utilisation.

“There are not sufficient resources or space within the existing facilities to accommodate sudden population growth created by the development without the quality of the service dropping.”

It points out that hospitals should have a maximum bed occupancy of 85 per cent, and when hospitals run above this level “patients are at more risk of delays to their treatment, sub-optimal care and being put at significant risk.”

The Trust says recent figures show they operated above this most of the time. They add: “This demonstrates that current occupancy levels are highly unsatisfactory, and the problem will be compounded by an increase in the population which does not coincide with an increase in the number of bed spaces available at the Hospital.

“This is the inevitable result where clinical facilities are forced to operate at over-capacity. Any new residential development will add a further strain on the current acute healthcare system.”

Explaining the need for a contribution from this and other potential developers, the letter says: “Without securing such contributions, the Trust will have no funding to meet healthcare demand arising from each dwelling during the first year of occupation and the health care provided by the Trust would be significantly delayed and compromised, putting the local people at risk.

“This development imposes an additional demand on existing over-burdened healthcare services, and failure to make the requested level of healthcare provision will detrimentally affect safety and care quality for both new and existing local population.

“This will mean that patients will receive substandard care, resulting in poorer health outcomes and pro-longed health problems. Such an outcome is not sustainable. There will be a dramatic reduction in safety and quality as the Trust will be forced to operate over available capacity as the Trust is unable to refuse care to emergency patients.

“There will also be increased waiting times for planned operations and patients will be at risk of multiple cancellations. This will be an unacceptable scenario for both the existing and new population. The contribution is necessary to maintain sustainable development.”

Sophie Brown, Head of Business Development at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said: “Developers applying for planning permission can be asked to contribute financially to the infrastructure needed to support any new development, including health, and to mitigate any impacts arising from the development.

“In line with other trusts we are now working in collaboration with our council partners to understand the implications of these section 106 agreements for the trust and the services we provide for our community, so we might receive a contribution where there is an impact for us.”

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