A new hospital service for children is opening at Dewsbury and District Hospital.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospital’s Trust said the children’s assessment unit, which opens on Monday, would help young patients be seen, treated and return home to their families more quickly.
The current children’s ward, Ward 7, provides inpatient treatment for children with medical conditions who need to stay in hospital.
In the future it will be open primarily as an outpatient and day care unit but will keep 10 beds for children needing an inpatient admission.
The new eight-bed unit next to A&E will take over the assessment and medical inpatient role of the existing children’s ward, and children needing surgical inpatient care will go to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield as they do now.
It will be open daily for 24 hours at first, but this is likely to be reduced to 12 hours a day when children’s inpatient services are centralised at Pinderfields in 2016/17.
The centralisation of children’s services at Pinderfields was approved as part of a wider reorganisation of services at Mid Yorkshire sites.
The hospital trust estimates that it will be able to treat at least 80 per cent of children who currently attend Dewsbury.
The rest – around one or two per day – will need to be transferred to Pinderfields for a longer stay.
Trust chief executive Stephen Eames said the unit offered a “real improvement” for young patients and families in North Kirklees.
“For those who need further observation and treatment, the vast majority of them will get the care they need locally in Dewsbury,” he said. “For the small number of children who might need to be in hospital for a longer stay, they will be transferred to Pinderfields Hospital where we will eventually be centralising urgent and complex care for all our patients.”
Mid Yorkshire said the number of patients to nurses would remain the same on the new unit as it was on Ward 7.
The hospital will no longer be admitting children from areas outside Mid Yorkshire such as South Leeds and South Bradford.
Mid Yorkshire has also promised that there will not be a reduction in the number of beds until it has evidence that fewer are needed and at more children can be cared for in the community as part of the Care Closer to Home plan.