Politicians and health bosses are set to clash after calls to drop proposals which could see the closure of Calderdale Royal Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department were rejected by doctors’ leaders.
Fury came after health bosses described the unanimous vote by Calderdale Council as ‘unhelpful’ and rejected its call for A&E closure plans to be shelved.
At a meeting at Halifax Town Hall yesterday, councillors said they were frustrated by the complete lack of consultation with the public that had taken place over the proposals.
Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said: “How can it be an open consultation when people are already telling us what the outcome is going to be?
“There are lot of worried people - they want assurances over consultation, they want to know their voices are being heard.”
However, bosses at Calderdale NHS Clinic Commissioning Group (CCG) which organises the delivery of local NHS services have cast doubt as to when a public consultation would take place, citing Calderdale Council’s People’s Commission as something which will delay the process.
Dr Matt Walsh, chief officer of Calderdale CCG told the meeting: “Moving forward we have to look at whether the CCG is prepared to consult.
“I’m extremely uncertain that we will be able to move to consultation within the timeline.
“The additional hours that fitting this process in with the People’s Commission will delay the current projections.
“The CCG is listening to what the politicians are saying, but we need to make the services meet the demands of the population.
“We have to reflect on the need for change - we need to move into a more objective process.”
Council Leader Tim Swift said health bosses have made a ‘serious mistake’ by not withdrawing their proposals.
He said: ”The view the Council expressed reflected the huge concern in the community – not just in Calderdale, but also in Kirklees and Bradford – generated by the current proposals.
“It seems that the Trusts want to develop the plans into a fuller business case - I do not think the present timescales allow for genuine public involvement and debate to shape that.
“The controversial nature of the current proposals will continue to drown out discussion about the future of health and social care.”
MP for Halifax Linda Riordan (Lab) has criticised the way the CCG has engaged with the public over the issue and has called for an immediate consultation process that is open and transparent.
She said: “This is yet another example of health bosses and the Government hiding behind procedure and pointless platitudes.
“What the people of Halifax and Calderdale want is the A&E to stay open, end of story.
“The callous closure proposal is looking more hollow by the day.
“Health bosses need to stop the closure farce now, with a frank admission that a catastrophic error of judgement has been made.”