Campaigners and health board call on NHS trust to reveal detailed numbers over Calderdale hospital plans
Campaigners and scrutineers alike want health chiefs to crunch the numbers over major hospital reconfiguration in Kirklees and Calderdale.
In all £196.5 million of public funding has been made available to reconfigure hospital services in Huddersfield and Halifax but the changes remain controversial.
Concerns about the level of accident and emergency (A&E) provision, dissatisfaction with the consultation process, the number of emergency hospital beds and travel arrangements were all ringing alarm bells for campaigners.
Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee members also had a lengthy list of questions and particularly wanted more figures so they can judge more clearly whether the proposals are stacking up.
Director of Transformation and Partnerships at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, Anna Basford, presented a progress update to the committee which outlined consultations which had been undertaken, reconfiguration programme timelines, a summary of proposed development plans and the next steps for public involvement.
Prior to that, campaigners had raised questions about the process in the meeting’s public question time.
Stephen Slator and Mike Foster of Hands Off Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HOHRI) – the latter’s letter was read out – and Jenny Shepherd and Rosemary Hedges of Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS all warned councillors they believed there was no evidence revised plans for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital were safe or fair and they should grill the trust for its evidence.
Councillors had a range of questions of their own but meeting chair Coun Colin Hutchinson (Calderdale, Lab, Skircoat) said the committee would need to look at issues again after councillors demanded more numbers to fully assess a number of them.
He wanted to know which NHS England category the new A&E department at Huddersfield will be in, consultant Mark Davies replying being consultant-led it would be category one but would not have the ability to deal on site with every eventuality, which is the situation now, where some specialist centres at Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield are also used.
Coun Liz Smaje (Kirklees, Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw) wanted to know if health inequalities, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, would be reduced by reconfigurated services and whether increased capacity for the future had been factored in, Ms Basford replying a single organisation could not close the gap but the trust was working with other partners including councils to address these issues.
Coun Andrew Cooper (Kirklees, Green, Newsome) wanted to know if demographic change had been taken into account over bed capacity and Ms Basford said work including projections over the next five years had been undertaken amid rigorous scrutiny required by NHS England.
Coun Alison Munro (Kirklees, Lib Dem, Almondbury) also doubted capacity would be sufficient and said under local plans Kirklees planned 32,000 new homes and Calderdale 10,000 in the coming years, and wanted to see some “hard data”.
Calderdale Coun Anne Collins (Lab, Ovenden) said the numbers should be provided sooner rather than later as there were also consequences for key Care Closer To Home schemes which aimed to reduce the need for patients to be cared for in hospitals.
The committee has also asked for more detailed figures on the financial case underpinning reconfiguration.
The timescale should see planning applications for both hospital sites submitted in May, a full business case for Huddersfield be ready in August and an outline business case for Calderdale Royal in November.
It is envisaged construction work on Huddersfield’s new A&E department can begin in December.
Work on the new multi story car park component of Calderdale Royal is expected to begin in 2022.
Reconfiguration is expected to be complete by 2025.