Health secretary to review controversial hospital plan for Calderdale and Huddersfield

The health secretary will be asked to review controversial changes to hospital services in Calderdale and Huddersfield.

A council watchdog decided to refer the plans to Jeremy Hunt over safety fears.

The shake up by Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) would see Huddersfield Royal Infirmary knocked down and replaced with a smaller site.

An expanded Calderdale Royal Hospital would become the main A&E centre for the two towns, a plan which has raised safety fears over longer travel times to hospital.

A noisy protest was held as Calderdale and Huddersfield joint health scrutiny committee discussed the proposals.

Speaking outside Huddersfield Town Hall Joy English, 67, said: “If you have an accident you will have to go all the way to Halifax. If you have to go all that way in all that traffic you’ll be dead before you get there.”

Frazer Soar, 48, said: “Reducing the hospital to 64 beds is ridiculous. We deserve a full A&E department.”

NHS campaigners were furious to learn that Huddersfield’s new hospital would have just 64 beds after first being told it would have 120.

Calderdale NHS campaigner Helen Kingston told the meeting: “I have an almost three year old son and I expect him to be a regular visitor to A&e, falling out of trees and off his bike.

“Its easy to forget that behind all the jargon and counting there are real life people.”

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff said the whole of Kirklees would be left without a full A&E after similar plans were approved at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Triust. Dewsbury’s A&E will be downgraded to an urgent care centre.

Ms Sherriff said: “One of the main factors was that Huddersfield would have a full A&E and many patients would travel there to ease the burden on Pinderfields Hospital.”

Fears were also raised over the impact on GP services of downgrading HRI..

Bert Jindal, a Huddersfield GP and medical secretary of the town’s Local Medical Committee, said: “We are facing a workforce crisis in general practice.

“We are also concend about the impact on the populaton of Huddersfield and the safety of its people”

Before the meeting it emerged that a controversial Private Finance Initiative would be used to fund the new Huddersfield site.

PFI schemes have been criticised for loading public sector organisations with years of costly repayments.

Hospital bosses were also criticised for not providing the committee with a Full Business Case (FBC) Report on the plans.

Tory councillor Chris Pearson said: “It feels like you are treating this scrutiny process with contempt.”

The committee had been told the full document was “commercially sensitive”.

Owen Williams, chief executive of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation trust, said as much information as possible would be published.

There was applause at the meeting when councillors voted to refer the proposals to Mr Hunt after grilling NHS bosses at the meeting. An independent review will now be carried out.

In a statement the committee said it made the decison on the grounds that “It considers that the proposal would not be in the interests of the people of Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield and hence not in the interests of the health service in the area.”