A LABOUR MP has called for clarity over the future of a Yorkshire town’s accident and emergency department amid fears it could be closed.
Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax only opened in 2001 but speculation has been growing that the A&E unit could close or be downgraded, forcing people to go to Huddersfield.
In a House of Commons debate, Halifax MP Linda Riordan spoke out against any plans to close or cut back services in Halifax.
She said closing the department would be “disastrous”.
She said: “I am determined to fight for better services at Calderdale Royal Hospital, not to see them cut. I want our excellent A&E department saved not sacrificed.
“The reaction of local residents has been on overwhelming ‘hands off’ our A&E.
“It needs to stay open, serving the people of Halifax and Calderdale, in the excellent way it always has done.
“To close or cutback the A&E would be a tragic mistake of short-term thinking and a failure to provide my constituents with a local hospital and National Health Service fit for the 21st Century.
“This issue goes to the very heart of what people should expect from their National Health Service.
“It’s time for the Government and local health bosses to come clean and set out exactly what their plans are.
“There is a lack of clarity on this issue at the moment, causing a lot of worry anguish and anger across Halifax and Calderdale.”
In a reply, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison confirmed that there were plans within the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust to “co-locate” – or share – services.
She said: “The trust has, I believe, identified a need to co-locate acute services to maximise the potential of its workforce and ensure services are safe and deliver those best outcomes for patients.”
NHS managers locally have been accused of not being open about what is proposed.
Matt Walsh, of NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are working closely with our partners across the health and social care system in Calderdale – including Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust – to carry out a comprehensive review of health and social care, which includes the provision of unplanned (emergency) care services.
“Key to this is working with and engaging health and social care staff, patients, other stakeholders and experts.
“To date, over 2,000 local people have been involved in public engagement activity that has focused on establishing the service needs of local residents.
“A need for timely access to quality services has been identified as a result of this exercise.
“No decisions have been made at this stage, any plans for major service change as a result of the Calderdale and Huddersfield health and social care strategic review programme would be subject to formal public consultation in due course.”
The trust’s medical director, Barbara Crosse, said discussions had taken place about unplanned care as part of the review.
“The programme is looking at how health and social care services as a whole are provided across Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale to make sure patients get the right care, at the right time and in the right place for their future needs,” she said.
“An external clinical view has been sought on how best to deliver unplanned care given the challenges the health and social care economy faces in the future. However, nothing is yet decided.
“However, it is important to stress that both our hospitals will serve vital roles in the years ahead.”
Last month NHS England’s medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh recommended major changes to NHS emergency services which could see at least half in Yorkshire downgraded.
In October plans to centralise A&E at Pinderfields in Wakefield and downgrade Dewsbury were referred to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.