VIDEO: Frustration as report on Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS shake-up not revealed

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is facing calls to reveal the findings of an independent review of controversial changes to hospital services.

He is set to make a decision on plans to replace Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) with a smaller hospital and centralise A&E services in Halifax.

The plans were referred to My Hunt last summer by the Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee after safety fears were raised over longer journey times to hospital if the proposals go ahead.

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The shake-up is subject to separate judicial review proceedings after NHS campaigners won the right to pursue a legal case.

Protests have been held

In parliament today, Thelma Walker, the Colne Valley MP, asked to know when the findings of the panel review would be released.

She said: “The Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s report on the downgrading of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is sitting on the Secretary of State’s desk, and I have been told that it will be made public in due course. Can we now have the exact date it will be published?”

Responding to her question, health minister Stephen Barclay did not give a date.

He said: “I’m aware of the issues raised by the council in Kirklees and I understand that local campaigners have also referred it to judicial review. Given the imminent legal proceedings, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

Thelma Walker MP.

Speaking afterwards Mrs Walker said: “I am really frustrated that the Minister is merely repeating the same answer he gave to my previous written questions.

"I will be looking to raise a point of order with the Speaker about the Minister’s response, as local people have the right to know about the future of our health services.”

Last Thursday a judge at the High Court in Leeds ruled that judicial review proceedings can go ahead. It was argued that a Full Business Case report drawn up by Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust was flawed and did not properly take into account the safety concerns raised during a public consultation.

Among the fears raised were extended journey times to A&E and the welfare of children being transferred between hospitals.

Protests have been held

The ruling reversed an earlier decision to refuse a full judicial review and means a judge will decide on the legality of the decision-making behind the hospital changes.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing action group Hands off HRI, said the case was expected to be heard in June.

NHS bosses have insisted the proposals for Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals will make patient care safer.

The plans, which have sparked protests, would see Huddersfield’s existing 400-bed infirmary replaced with a 64-bed site with an urgent care centre instead of a full A&E.

Thelma Walker MP.

Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax would get more beds and an expanded emergency department to serve both towns.

The new Huddersfield hospital would be designed to carry out planned NHS treatments.

On September 1 last year, councillors formally referred the proposals to Jeremy Hunt.