Joined-up thinking needed on rail scheme and heart care

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From Jim Steer, Director Greengauge 21.

What welcome news it is that Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport, is considering ways to bring forward the benefits of HS2 to Yorkshire (Yorkshire Post, July 18).

York Central MP Hugh Bayley is surely right to argue that Yorkshire must get the same benefits at the same time as the North West, and not six to seven years later as current plans intend.

Justine Greening warned there are “challenges” surrounding the proposal, which Greengauge 21 has advocated since 2009, to build a short stretch of railway linking the first stage of HS2 to the Midland Main Line, but has shown a very welcome preparedness to listen to the views of those in the region.

Alongside her Department’s commitment to fund Midland Main Line electrification (a necessary precursor to the idea of an early HS2 connection for Yorkshire) is an intention to look at a further scheme.

As a follow-on, this is electrification of the Derby – Birmingham line (for implementation in 2019-2024). This is another necessary step, and one which will bring benefits that include cost efficiencies that will flow back to DfT and Treasury.

The jigsaw pieces – for once – are falling into place.

The benefits of the link for the East Midlands and Yorkshire are huge, and the landscape of benefit of HS2 will be spread across a much wider geography from the start.

Indeed, we have estimated 
that the additional short connection will increase the benefits from HS2 – by 20 per cent or more.

The link will secure train paths from the eastern side of the country on the Phase 1 route from the Midlands into London.

This removes the risk that by the time Phase 2 comes along, HS2 will already have a “sorry, full up” sign hung around it.

From: Sally Blackburn MBChB M Med Sci Granary House, Harrogate.

AS a GP in Bradford for 35 years (now retired), I have both personal and professional experience of the excellent care provided in Leeds for tertiary referral of patients by Bradford hospitals and hospitals throughout Yorkshire.

The unit also serves as a secondary referral centre for the whole of Leeds; overall some 12 million people. It liaises with the similarly excellent adult cardiac centre in Leeds.

The reasons for the choice of Newcastle have not been spelt out. If the choice was on clinical excellence, surely it is better to make up what shortfall there is in Leeds by trawling worldwide for clinicians; how many would we need?

If the unit moves to Newcastle, the unit there will have to increase fourfold to cater for the new 12 million catchment area.

Will they be recruiting four times more staff? What quality of staff can they find? What money will be spent on a new unit to accommodate them?

The committee which chose Newcastle needs to use the Plain English Society to explain how they have ignored all the points I have raised and give their reasons so that we will all understand this currently inexplicable decision.