Councillors, politicians and local communities have vowed to fight to save Calderdale Royal Hospital’s accident and emergency department.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust has sparked outrage after controversial plans were put forward suggesting the casualty section in Halifax could close and A&E be centred on Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Health chiefs say the plan could save around £50 million and will be focussed on a better service in the community care sector.
But today furious campaigners and Courier readers have blasted the cost-cutting proposals and issued a firm “hands-off” our hospital message.
Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan said: “There is only one outcome the people of Halifax and Calderdale want to see. That is for their A&E to stay where it is, as it is, continuing the excellent 24 hour service to communities across the district.
“Health bosses can consult as much as they like, but the message from local people is quite simply ‘hands off our A&E’. I am concerned that saving money might be a bigger priority than saving lives.
“Any proposal to close the local A&E would be disastrous for this area and will be fought all the way.”
Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift said: “I think what will shock people will be the scale of the changes. I have real concerns about what the minor injuries unit will be.”
The proposal is one of five brought forward as part of the Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Health and Social Care Strategic Review.
The model is centred round a two hospital system for Calderdale and Huddersfield with one offering so-called ‘unplanned care’ and the other centred on ‘planned care’.
If Calderdale Royal Hospital was chosen as the planned care site, as is the trust’s preference, then the hospital would lose A&E and be left with a minor injury unit. Complex maternity care, gynaecology and neonatal intensive care would also move to the unplanned site (Huddersfield). As part of this model Todmorden Health Centre would be set for improvements as a community hub in keeping with the review’s proposals to reduce the burden on hospitals by increasing community care and encouraging individuals to take more responsibility for their health.
Online petitions have been set up and public meetings are in the pipeline to discuss an approach to fighting any closure.
Philip Allott, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Halifax, said: “I think losing Calderdale A&E is unacceptable I will campaign against this wholeheartedly. The facilities in Huddersfield are inadequate anyway.
“Halifax is a big population it justifies having its own hospital A&E. As long as we have joined up messages we can influence the public consultation.”
Liberal Democrats in Calderdale are calling for local NHS bosses to justify their plans. Group Leader Coun Janet Battye said: “The changes suggested will affect real services provided to benefit real people. It is not some managerial scheme that can be left to ‘experts’.
“By giving us a ‘summary’ of what they call the ‘proposed future service model’, hares have been set running and people’s worst fears aroused.
“They should have known that their proposals would cause alarm locally about the future of the Accident and Emergency Services at Calderdale Royal Hospital.
“Some of the changes and improvements in the presentation do sound useful and interesting – the promotion of self care and integrated support, the notions of Locality Teams and Community Hubs – but we all need to be reassured that we can get emergency medical treatment within easy reach and, for most people in Calderdale, this means Halifax.”
Councillor Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said: “These proposals are more about government cuts than better outcomes for patients.”
John Kenealy, Editor of the Courier, said: “We are backing this fight all the way and we will be letting people know all the ways that they can put their views across during the consultation period.”
Tell us why keeping the Accident and Emergency section at Calderdale Royal Hospital is so important to you. How has it helped your family? What do you think about having to travel to Kirklees in an emergency? Share your stories and comments with us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to YourSay.