Build-up of support to save our A&E

Eric Aked, right, signs a petition to save the Calderdale Royal Hospital A&E department, with Halifax MP Linda Riordan and Labour councillors and supporters.
Eric Aked, right, signs a petition to save the Calderdale Royal Hospital A&E department, with Halifax MP Linda Riordan and Labour councillors and supporters.

Political activists from both the Labour and Conservative camps sought shoppers’ support in the fight to save our hospital’s A&E.

Petitions were signed in Southgate Precinct, Halifax, as the campaign hots-up following last week’s bombshell.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust has upset many thousands of local people with its proposal to close the department at Calderdale Royal Hospital and centralise it at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

The cost-cutting exercise - which health chiefs say will also lead to better community care - is its preferred option.

But, a groundswell of support from politicians and the community could result in the A&E department being saved via the ongoing consultation process.

Andrew Gunn, 64, of Illingworth, Halifax, suffers from health problems and has been treated at the Halifax A&E department.

“Illingworth is a slightly outlying area but we would have to travel through Halifax and Ainley Top to get to the Huddersfield hospital,” he said.

“I can understand having to go to ‘Jimmy’s’ in Leeds for specialist treatment but the Halifax hospital should be for all the ‘bits and pieces’ - and we are still paying for it!”

Safdar Hussain, of Halifax, said the plans would result in a deterioration of service for a lot of people.

“I think we can put enough pressure on to show the A&E should stay here,” he said.

“We understand there needs to be cuts but emergency services need to be local.”

Jill Osman, of Cragg Vale, said it was an appalling situation and continuing cuts were not manageable and impacted on acceptable levels of service.

And, she didn’t accept that NHS savings were needed when viewed alongside health spending in other countries.

“What is more important than health?” she said.

Mohammad Naeem, a former non-executive director of the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, was also in town seeking support.

He said people were shocked and it was important that consultation was meaningful and health chiefs listened to people’s concerns.

Cuts had to be made - but where those cuts fell was the issue.

“There could be cuts in administration and other areas, but frontline services should not be affected,” he said.

“Anything that can affect patient outcomes should not be touched.”

The proposal is one of five as part of the Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Health and Social Care Strategic Review.

That favours a two hospital system with one offering “unplanned care” and the other “planned care.”

The Trust wants Calderdale to be the planned care site resulting in it losing the A&E, complex maternity care, gynaecology and neonatal intensive care would also move to Huddersfield.

Community care would be increased at the Todmorden Health Centre.

The five options

Continue with the existing hospital and service model

Huddersfield Royal Infirmary for acute and emergency care and Calderdale Royal Hospital for planned care

The same as above with the hospitals’ roles reversed

Those needing specialist treatment are transferred to an emergency centre outside the area

Other ideas which might emerge