By Matt Guy
NURSING STAFF have criticised the decision by health chiefs to close Huddersfield’s A&E department – but think campaigners are fighting a losing a battle.
Members of both the Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups voted last week to approve plans to restructure Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
The proposal will eventually see the demolition of the current A&E site on Acre Street, Lindley, with the building of a new state of the art specialist hospital on an adjacent site.
To get emergency care, patients would have to travel to Halifax, Leeds, Wakefield or Sheffield depending on the state of their injuries and where specialist care is available.
One HRI staff nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I was very surprised at the vote and it was a bit of a shock.
“They spent over five years bringing the A&E department to Huddersfield and now they’re moving it back, it’s wasted money.
“It’s a shame for those that are travelling as time is of the essence in an emergency.”
Another HRI nurse said: “Not only will people have to travel a long way but there’s also a bed shortage, where are they going to put everyone?
“This could increase journey times for patients but could also affect the availability of top quality services.
“It’s a shame they had to do it but I don’t think they have any option.
“It was a no-win situation for the commission, there wasn’t much they could do.”
Currently, the HRI is a specialist in orthopaedic and vascular surgery, however there are no such specialist services at Calderdale.
Dr Steve Ollerton, a GP and chair of Greater Huddersfield CCG, said: “As governing bodies, we have a duty to ensure the best quality care and health outcomes for people of Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield.
“Our priorities are to improve the quality and safety of hospital services, bring them in line with national care standards and make them sustainable, in terms of money and staffing, into the future.”
Dr Alan Brook, GP and chair of Calderdale CCG said: “We are facing significant challenges and we believe that these proposals would bring about the greatest overall benefits.
“However, this next stage is an important step where we will be developing the detail and exploring how we take it forward and look to implement the proposed changes as well as address concerns raised such as travel and transport.
“As part of this we will continue to work closely with our partners and key stakeholders to support us in developing the full business case.”
Since the CCG’s original announcement, several campaigns including #HandsoffHRI have fought to save the hospital.
Campaigners have raised around £22,000 in donations and have attended Downing Street alongside Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney.
One nurse added: “All credit to them campaigning but I don’t think it’ll do anything. This is not just a Calderdale and Huddersfield thing, it’s a national thing.
“With what’s happened to the hospitals in Scotland, we’re lucky to even have Calderdale.”