Hospital plans to be referred to minister July 21, 2017

A joint scrutiny committee of Kirklees and Calderdale councillors has moved to refer plans which would see the demolition of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to the Secretary of State for Health.

New anomolies between the NHS Trust's as yet unpublished full business case for the closure of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and what the public were consulted on emerged at a Joint Health Scrutiny Committee on Friday July 21.

Reading a motion which was supported by five votes to three by the committee, chairman Clr Elizabeth Smaje said that the referral was on the grounds that it was not satisfied with the adequacy of consultation with the joint committee, nor its consistency. It also considered that the proposals would not be in the interests of the people of Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield.

Three councillors who voted against the motion feared referral to the Health Secretary might make matters worse.

The committee will now write to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt with their report.

In a unanimously-backed recommendation detailing its concerns, the committee accepted that maintaining the status quo was not an option, but it felt plans put forward for care closer to home were not sufficiently robust for the number of hospital beds to be reduced at the two hospitals by more than 100. Among its list of concerns, it said it had not received sufficient information to be sure that the plans were financially sustainable, it was concerned capital development was to be achieved through private finance initiative, a public transport analysis was not complete and it felt the public had not been properly consulted on the further reduction in proposed beds in Hudderfield from 120 to 64. It also expressed disappointment that support for the propsals had not been forthcoming from the Treasury or from other national Government sources.

A report to the committee had indicated bed numbers have been slashed to almost half the reduced figure given during consultation on the plan to close Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in Lindley and build a smaller facility at the Acre Mills site at the opposite side of Acre Street.

The reduced number of beds at the replacement planned care facility at Acre Mills is now down from the 120 clearly shown in the 44-page colour consultation brochure (pictured) to 64 in figures shown in the report prepared for the joint meeting of councillors from Kirklees and Calderdale at the Huddersfield Town Hall meeting.

It had earlier led the "Let's Save HRI" campaign to accuse the three local NHS bodies involved in the plans of "blundering on seemingly oblivious to the lack of confidence and trust that local people have in them and their plans".

At the Friday morning meeting the Clinical Commissioning Groups were criticised by members of the public who accused them of getting the consultation wrong, not including everybody, leaving a situation which was not safe and being not fit to plan for future health needs. The committee were asked to refer the plans to the Secretary of State for Health.

Members of the public were invited to speak at the meeting with several other councillors also adding their voice to those of the scrutiny committee.

Dr Bert Jindal, medical secretary of the Kirklees Local Medical Committee which represents GPs, said there was a pressing need for change but the LMC felt the response totally ignored the outcomes of consultation with the public.

Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker said: "It's not a lot to ask, for an easily accessible hospital and A&E when you're life is at risk, it's not a lot to ask. To have enough beds available when needed, it's not a lot to ask. To have safe staffing levels and staff who are paid a fair wage, it's not a lot to ask."

Instead there was a plan which offered 64 beds to cater for over a quarter of a million people, down from 400, a plan which threatened almost 500 job losses and a plan which most GPs did not agree with. "It's about profit before patient care," she said.

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff said the proposals were unsafe and would have a serious and negative impact on the whole of the population of Kirklees.

Lindley ward councillor Clr Richard Eastwood said it was a travesty and betrayal of the people of Kirklees.

Colne Valley councillor Clr Rob Walker, spoke about hospital beds being reduced and A&E and maternity services being centralised on the rationale of improved health and social care provison in the community. But he could not see evidence that this assumption was met. "I believe the evidence that has been provided is inadequate."

Almondbury councillor Clr Linda Wilkinson said "Local people do not want this" and added "The picture that has emerged is one of flawed consultation."

Owen Williams, chief executive of the NHS Trust, said it was trying very, very hard to get to a situation where it could publish as much as possible of the full business case. It hoped to have a redacted or full version by Thursday or Friday of next week.

Carol McKenna, chief officer of the Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group, said the CCG had not yet had sight of the full business case and could not comment on whether the consultation coincided with this.

Calderdale councillor Clr Chris Pearson, accused the NHS Trust of holding the scrutiny process in contempt by not providing the full business case in time for the meeting, an accusation which was denied by the Trust.

Calderdale councillor Clr Adam Wilkinson said it had not been explicitly clear from the consultation that there would not always be a doctor present at the Urgent Care centre in Huddersfield.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust runs the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital covering the two distinct and extensive districts covered by the Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group (the southern part of the Kirklees metropolitan district) in which 243,000 people live and Calderdale CCG (covering all the Calderdale metropolitan district) in which around 213,000 people live.

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