Clear message of ‘hands off our A&E’

Unison rally at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax.
Unison rally at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax.

‘Hands off ’ was the loud and clear message from a protest rally aimed at saving Calderdale Royal Hospital’s A&E department.

Around 300 people turned out to the event at a packed North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax, which was chaired by prospective Labour MP for the Calder Valley Josh Fenton-Glynn.

He said it was fantastic to see so many people at such short notice.

“It sends a loud and clear message to everybody making these decisions that people in Calderdale want our A&E and people across Huddersfield want theirs.

“The closures aren’t safe, the distance people will have to travel isn’t safe and the idea of downgrading our hospital is something we are all going to fight against.

“It is not a fight against the different A&E departments and which one should be closed. It is about keeping both services we need.

Speeches were made by Halifax MP Linda Riordan, Tony Pearson from Unison, Gary Scott and Naveen Judah, Chair of Healthwatch Rotherham and Chair of Rotherham disability network.

Linda Riordan MP said: “We are here to fight for our NHS and it is our NHS. It is about saving lives. The founding principles of the NHS have been ripped up in front of our eyes.

“Lets get a clear message out to them ‘hands off our A&E. We can and we will save our A&E department and Calderdale Royal hospital.”

Meanwhile, regional Unison head of health Tony Pearson, said: “Both hospitals’ A&E departments are operating at near full capacity with 22,000 emergencies coming to Huddersfield and 23,000 to Calderdale.

“We don’t oppose changes where there is clear evidence that it will improve people’s lives but we don’t have this assurance here and this decision will affect a huge population.”

Suma Wholefoods Workers Cooperative employee Gary Scott, who led a non-political march through Halifax town centre in March, said: “We are looking for people with all expertise. We can make an impact and make a difference if we all get involved with this.”

The next public meeting, being organised by the local Labour group, will take place on April 11 at the Kings Centre, in Park Road, at 6.30pm.