Noisy protests as public consultation is launched

Protesters at the meeting to close Huddersfield A&E.
Protesters at the meeting to close Huddersfield A&E.

NHS bosses decided to launch a public consultation on the hospital shake-up at a meeting on Wednesday.

There were noisy protests outside Briar Court Hotel in Huddersfield as Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) met to discuss the plans.

People gathered outside said they were worried about the distances ambulances would have to travel between the hospitals to get people to A&E. Protester Keiron Wadsworth, 27, said: “It’s disgusting. Everybody knows how mad the traffic is. God bless the paramedics because this is just going to make their job harder.”

More than 80 people crammed into the meeting.

Speakers from the two CCGs were frequently interrupted by shouts from the public and struggled to make themselves heard at times. They said centralising A&E services would make emergency care safer.

But the room erupted in laughter when the meeting was told having the main A&E in either Halifax or Huddersfield would not make a difference to people’s access to care.

There were also angry outbursts when members of the public were not given 10 minutes to ask questions as expected. The CCGs voted to start a 12-week public consultation, which will start early next month. They said information events and roadshows would be held as part of the consultation.

Dr Steve Ollerton, chairman of Greater Huddersfield CCG, said after the meeting: “People are very passionate about their local health services and that passion was evident at today’s meeting. We share that passion and that is why we are very eager to get out and talk to the public about our proposals.”

Read more here about the A&E proposals at Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary:

Accident and emergency services are set to be centralised in Halifax under plans which could see Huddersfield lose its A&E.

Fewer people would die in hospital if accident and emergency care was centralised at one site, according to a report by NHS bosses.

NHS services in Calderdale and Huddersfield face a budget shortfall of more than £280m over the next seven years.