Calderdale leader's letter in full to Matt Hancock MP on hospital shake-up plans

Calderdale Council leader Councillor Tim Swift
Calderdale Council leader Councillor Tim Swift

The Secretary of Health is set to review amended plans over the future of Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Matt Hancock MP is set to review amended plans in a new report and is being urged by the Leader of Calderdale Council Councillor Tim Swift to push forward with the plan.

The Council has expressed support for the proposals, drafted by Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, which would potentially bring nearly £200 million investment to Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust, transforming Calderdale Royal Hospital, and ensuring better acute and urgent care for our residents.

Coun Swift has sent a letter to Mr Hancock to accompany the proposals. Here is his letter in full:

Dear Mr Hancock Hospital and community health services reconfiguration in Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield I would like to start by offering my congratulations to you on your recent appointment as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

I am writing to set out the position of Calderdale Council on behalf of our place to the proposals developed by our health partners in response to the recent letters from the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

When proposals emerged in 2014 to develop Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary as specialist planned and unplanned hospitals, the Council established a People’s Commission, chaired by Professor Andrew Kerslake, which examined the proposals in depth.

The findings from the Commission have shaped our response to the changing proposals from our health partners since then.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel has confirmed the view of our People’s Commission that status quo in terms of provision is not an option. We both recognise and accept that responding to future demand and the changing nature of health problems means a reinvigorated focus on prevention, alongside the growth of effective and aligned primary and community services.

This, combined with both medical advances and financial and workforce pressures, inevitably leads to changes in how hospital services are configured and provided in local places.

I have discussed in depth with Calderdale CCG and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust their response to the findings of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

Whilst recognising that there is further work to be done on detailed implementation, I consider that their proposals on both out of hospital services and hospital capacity, and the revised position the proposals represent, provides a thoughtful and positive response to the anxiety and concern expressed by members of the public, whilst seeking to reshape how services are delivered, building upon our progress to date.

I will address each matter in turn.

Firstly, I welcome the finding of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to focus on improving out of hospital services.

This is wholly consistent with our strategic intent and plans. The only way to sustain services will be through reducing demand on secondary care services by investing in primary, social care and public health services.

The proposal developed by the local health system offers an ambitious but deliverable model for out of hospital health and care, based upon a high level of collaboration at all levels of our organisations, rooted in evidence based and effective models of intervention in our communities.

Our ambitious and innovative digital transformation work across the system, and our place based early intervention programmes with our voluntary and community sector are trailblazing at a national level and assure us that we have the skill and tenacity to deliver on our aspirations as outlined in the formal local health system response.

Secondly, we welcome the restated and strengthened commitment not to reduce hospital capacity until community health services can demonstrate that they are reducing demand on the hospitals in a sustainable way.

We will work with our health colleagues to achieve this.

Our own plans to improve the social care services we provide or commission will make a significant contribution to this.

Our improvement journey in delivering social care as a local authority has been recently described by an external LGA peer review of integrated commissioning that said, “There was strong evidence of commitment to working in partnership as a whole system, with people and communities at the heart of delivery… all partners showed that they were aiming to focus on the right things, the needs and wellbeing of their citizens firmly rooted in the diverse localities and communities they live in.”

We also welcome the restated commitment to develop capacity at Calderdale Royal Hospital. We support the model of specialised hospitals, and we believe that the hospital will become an excellent resource for people in Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield when they are ill.

We will work closely with both Calderdale CCG and CHFT to bring these plans to fruition.

It is significant that the capital investment needed at both hospital sites totalling nearly £200m has been made the first priority for capital investment by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership.

We hope that the voice of the partnership in making this proposal their top priority will be given significant importance in your consideration of this matter.

We are also very pleased to hear that there may be access to public borrowing to fund these improvements, rather than depending on a costly and complex PFI arrangement.

We consider that enhancing the Urgent Care offer at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary by providing 24/7 emergency doctor and anaesthetist cover onsite and investing £20m capital in part of the hospital site is a sensible response to public concern in Huddersfield.

A more flexible plan will also enable us to respond to changing needs and demands. Huddersfield Royal Infirmary provides services to many Calderdale people and will continue to do so, so we shall remain closely involved in planning these new developments with our colleagues in Kirklees.

This capital investment at the hospital will bring economic benefits to Calderdale creating jobs and opportunities for our place at a time when we have secured major capital investment from Leeds City Region to improve our transport infrastructure.

This will bring direct benefits which enhance the deliverability of the health proposals before you, as this infrastructure programme includes our ambitious £110m programme of improvements to the A629 which has begun.

This will significantly improve the accessibility of each hospital for all our residents. Our partnership working with Calderdale CCG and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) has been hugely strengthened over the last 12 months.

We have achieved major improvement in our delayed transfer of care performance and national recognition for a number of our public health programmes.

Our Calderdale Cares programme, which is the Council’s plan to integrate health and social care services on a locality basis, has been formally endorsed by Calderdale CCG, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, South West Yorkshire NHS Partnership Foundation Trust and Locala.

Importantly, Calderdale Cares has strengthened the opportunity for Councillors to become involved in planning health and care services at a local level, providing greater democratic involvement and a new partnership in planning for good health between local government and primary care.

The pressures in our local hospitals last winter, the impact of our unusually hot summer and the anticipated demands next winter provide a vivid reminder of the need to make the delivery of a sustainable health and social care system one of our top priorities as a local authority.

The substantial public discussion about these proposals over the last four years was important and necessary.

However, it has delayed making the improvements to our local hospital and community health services that are so important to the people of Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield.

In view of this, I believe we need to move on with some urgency. The time has come for clear decision making on this key issue for our residents. We support the proposals being put to you from our local health system. For all of the reasons stated above, I would urge that a final positive decision on hospital and community health services in Calderdale and Huddersfield is taken within three months of this letter.

I can assure you that the local authority will then take all necessary action to act upon this and work with the local health system to deliver and realise the full impact of the investment we would receive.