Petitions and protest at A&E shake-up plans

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MEMBERS of Parliament and trades unionists are throwing their weight behind a campaign to prevent the possible downgrading of Accident and Emergency services at one of two Yorkshire hospitals.

Earlier this week health bosses outlined a £50m savings plan that could result in the end of 24-hour A&E services at either Huddersfield Royal Infirmary or Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.

One option is that one of the hospitals specialises in 24-hour emergency care while the other becomes a specialist centre for planned care.

Another option would see both A&E departments downgraded with patients sent to another unit such as Leeds.

Almost 5,000 people have already signed an online petition saying ‘hands off Calderdale A&E’.

Paper petitions are being handed out today in Halifax town centre by Labour and union activists and a public meeting has been called for Saturday March 29 at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax.

Former hospital patients and union members are being lined up to address the meeting.

Yesterday Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan said: “There is only one outcome the people of Halifax and Calderdale want to see. That is for their A&E to stay where it is, as it is, continuing the excellent 24 hour service to communities across the district.

“Health bosses can consult as much as they like, but the message from local people is quite simply ‘hands off our A&E’.

“I am concerned that saving money might be a bigger priority than saving lives. Any proposal to close the local A&E would be disastrous for this area and will be fought all the way.”

The leader of Calderdale Council, Councillor Tim Swift, said the council would work with health bosses as their plans progress.

Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney said he did not want to see services lost.

“I don’t want to see a downgrade of either site. I want good quality services on the doorstep.”

But Calder Valley Tory MP Craig Whittaker said: “If we focus purely on A&E services, whether the choice is Calderdale Royal or Huddersfield hospitals, then we need to understand that we do say ‘keep A&E in Halifax’ then that would mean planned surgery goes to Huddersfield. We need to understand and explore the implications of that too.”

Mr Whittaker said that if planned surgery did go to Huddersfield and A&E stayed in Calderdale “then I fear that this would be a worst case scenario for our aged population - partners and family getting to Huddersfield is much more difficult for Calderdale residents then getting to Calderdale Royal. The aged population also tend to spend more time in hospital.”

Health bosses have stated that no decisions have been taken.