EMERGENCY services at an threatened A&E unit in Yorkshire face no closure plans “at the moment”, says Health Minister George Freeman who has given a guarded commitment that emergency services at Calderdale Royal Hospital will stay open.
Halifax MP Linda Riordan fears that a review of services at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust will close some departments, to cope with a £50m funding shortfall.
“It’s time to come clean and spell things out,” Ms Riordan said. “We all know that the Government’s desire to cut A&Es, like the one in Halifax, is to save money. It is nothing to do with improving patient care.
“If that was the case then the A&E in Halifax and Calderdale would remain open. I haven’t seen or heard anything yet that makes a good clinical case for closing or watering down the service in Halifax, nor do I expect to hear one in the coming months. Quite simply there isn’t one.”
Speaking in Parliament last night, the Labour MP added: “Sadly, I fear that Halifax is suffering cuts, cuts and more cuts. If there isn’t a funding problem why are these cuts taking place? It isn’t through lack of demand for services. This is closure by stealth, by secrecy and by drawing out the whole sorry process for a period of months.”
But Calder Valley Conservative MP Craig Whittaker hit back, saying that the “strategic review says there are no proposals to close A&E in Halifax.”
Mr Freeman insisted that as the plans stand there would be no closure, but added: “Change is necessary to ensure the NHS can be fit for the 21st Century.”
Stopping short of a full promise against closures, Mr Freeman did say: “I can confirm there are no plans to close A&E at the moment. There are reviews going on, but before those plans are acted on they will be put out to the public.”
He added: “The Trust has looked at a number of options, but at this stage nothing is ruled in or out, and there are no formal proposals for changes to hospital services. “
Ms Riordan feared A&E would remain only in a downgraded form, allowing health chiefs to say no service would be closed.
She added: “These unnecessary cuts to frontline services will a body blow to all ages.”