SIR Patrick Stewart has shown his support for the campaign to keep an A&E department in Huddersfield by tweeting that it would be a “grave mistake” to close it.
In a Tweet to his 2 million followers, the actor posted a link to a petition against the closure, and wrote: “Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is losing its A & E Dept. This is a grave mistake.”
Sir Patrick was born in Mirfield, close to Huddersfield, and was previously chancellor on Huddersfield University, regularly returning from his home in Los Angeles to oversee graduation ceremonies.
Plans to close the A&E department at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary were revealed in a report earlier this month.
A consultation is now underway over plans which could see Huddersfield Royal Infirmary replaced with a new hospital without an accident and emergency department with urgent cases instead treated in Halifax.
The plans sparked immediate backlash, with a campaign being launched against closure, and Labour and Conservative MPs joining forces to ask Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to step in.
In a joint letter to the Health Secretary, Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman and Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney argue residents will be faced with journeys of up to 40 minutes to access emergency care and point to analysis suggesting the changes could lead to an additional 157 deaths per year.
Sir Patrick’s tweet containing the petition link received more than 600 re-tweets in the first few hours since it was published.
The petition, which has more than 43,500 signatures, states: “Huddersfield is one of the largest town in northern England, the proposal is the closure of our A&E department and move services to Halifax.
“The road infrastructure will cause delays and potentially deaths and would cause a strain services within on Halifax A&E.”
Health bosses from Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) say centralising emergency care in Halifax would be safer.a
NHS services in Calderdale and Huddersfield face a £281m funding gap between now and 2021-22, and the shake-up would see new investment in both hospitals, paid for with £490m of government funding.