The first of four debates by political candidates competing for the Calder Valley Parliamentary seat took place at Brighouse High Sixth Form this evening (Thursday).
The incumbent Conservative MP Craig Whittaker, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Alisdair McGregor and Labour candidate Josh Fenton-Glynn all had the opportunity to present their views on local NHS services and broader political issues.
The evening started with each candidate delivering a seven minutes speech on local health service provision.
Mr McGregor said in his speech that NHS services are too centralised and should be spread out for everybody to use.
He said his biggest concern - based on three years working in the NHS in Nottinghamshire - is waste.
He said the PFI-funded Calderdale Royal Hospital is a “grotesque waste of money.”
But said the Government is caught berween a rock and hard place, and would like to see the hospital find creative ways to back out of PFI deals.
Mr Whittaker said the local NHS is currently undergoing a huge strategic review that he says will mean better care in people’s communities.
He said: “Is it any wonder people pile into A&E when so few choices are available?”
He accused Labour of scaremongering and employing “schoolboy politics.”
He added: “There are no proposals to close our A&E - if there were I’d say ‘hands off our A&E’.”
Mr Fenton-Glynn said he care ddeeply about the local hospital where he was born and where his mum was treated twice for cancer.
He said: “A lot of people are scared about changes we’ve seen proposed - I owe a lot to our local health services.”
He said many of the inidicators we use to measure NHS performance are on a downward turn - ambulance waiting times, A&E waiting times and the availability of GP appointments.
He added: “Mr Whittaker says anyone who disagrees with him is scaremongering.”