‘Commission’ should review Halifax and Huddersfield hospital plans - Swift

Coun Tim Swift.
Coun Tim Swift.
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A HALT to plans to reorganise hospitals in Halifax and Huddersfield will be demanded by councillors who will call for a commission to review the proposals.

Calderdale Royal Hospital could see its accident and emergency department close under the proposals meaning patients in and around Halifax would have to travel to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

A special meeting will be held by Calderdale Council next week where the ruling Labour group will call for the current plans to be withdrawn.

Council leader Tim Swift said: “I understand the enormous pressures faced by the three provider organisations, and particularly by the hospital trust. They clearly feel that, trapped between rising demand, a shortage of vital trained staff in some areas, and inadequate funding, they have to propose radical changes.

“But in our view the current proposals leave too many unanswered questions. They ask local people to take a leap of faith to accept that adequate community services will be put in place to replace the hospital services that are lost and at a time of great uncertainty about the future shape of health services, they would require a commitment to a massive programme of capital investment particularly in the Huddersfield site.

“Right now, the public debate has been dominated by the future provision of Accident and Emergency. In this area and in many others, most people simply cannot understand why the answer to rising demand is apparently to significantly reduce capacity.”

Labour councillors will suggest an “arms-length commission” including representatives of the NHS, the councils and independent experts to review local needs.

Coun Swift added: “Local people are passionate about the NHS and about our local services. As long as the current proposals remain on the table, too many will believe that the changes are a ‘done deal’ and by cynical about any engagement or consultation exercise. We believe the path we are outlining provides a better way which will lead to the development of further options for the shape of future services.”