Campaign presses on with legal hospital challenge

NHS campaigners against changes to hospital services in Calderdale and Huddersfield.
NHS campaigners against changes to hospital services in Calderdale and Huddersfield.

NHS campaigners will press ahead with a legal challenge to controversial changes to hospital services in Halifax and Huddersfield.

Action group Hands Off HRI wants a judge to decide on a proposal to knock down Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and replace it with a smaller site.

The group is continuing with judicial review proceedings despite an intervention by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who told NHS bosses to go back to the drawing board.

READ MORE: Jeremy Hunt says 'reconsider' Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals shake-up

The shake-up could be scrapped after Mr Hunt said the proposals, which would see A&E services centralised in Halifax, were not in the best interests of patients.

It followed a court hearing in March in which a judge granted permission for a full judicial review to proceed.

Hands Off HRI said in a statement: “This outcome has completely vindicated the long and relentless campaign waged by Hands Off HRI over the last two and a half years, and supports the findings of the court that will result in the full judicial review in June.

“There is little doubt in campaigners’ minds that the decision at Leeds Crown Court two months ago to order a full judicial review into this proposal has concentrated minds in Whitehall.”

The proposals, which have raised safety fears over longer journey times to hospital, were referred to Mr Hunt last September by the Calderdale and Kirklees joint health scrutiny committee.

Last Friday, Mr Hunt revealed the findings of an independent review of the plans in a letter to the joint committee. He said the Independent Reconfiguration Panel had found failings with the proposals.

Mr Hunt said: “In short, the proposals are not in the best interests of the people of Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield and I would ask the NHS locally and nationally to reconsider.”

The shake-up involves an expansion of Calderdale Royal Hospital, more planned procedures being carried out at a new facility in Huddersfield and more services being offered outside of hospitals.

The new Huddersfield hospital was originally planned to have 120 beds, but that was reduced to 64.

Hands Off HRI has also called for the resignation of the boards of directors of Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) following Mr Hunt’s intervention.

A three-day judicial review hearing will be held in Leeds in June.