Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promises to come and view hospital shake-ups
HEALTH Secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised to come to see the impact hospital shakeups are having in Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton, has asked Mr Hunt to pay a visit several times and she did so again yesterday in the House of Commons.
And this time he said he would.
She said in Parliament: “I’ve repeatedly asked and I yet again ask the Secretary of State if he will visit my area to see for himself the damaging impact that the downgrades and closure of local hospital services in both Dewsbury and Huddersfield will have on my constituents.”
Mr Hunt responded by saying: “I am very happy to accept the invitation to visit her area which I will do but I know what I will see when I go there that there are 8,300 more people being treated within four hours at her local hospital where there are 42 more doctors and 56 more nurses than in 2010.”
Miss Sherriff said: “A year on since I invited the Health Secretary to come to Kirklees to better understand the implications of the downgrades to services at Dewsbury and Huddersfield I’m glad he has finally agreed to visit.
“It is vitally important that Mr Hunt understands the damage being done through his government’s mismanagement of the NHS. Taken together the downgrades will leave the whole of Kirklees – a population of some 430,000 people – without an Accident & Emergency department.
“Understandably, there are concerns over response times and capacity for people to travel further to reach hospital services. I hope that Mr Hunt will meet with staff and health service campaigners so that he can appreciate the depth of feeling among local people on this.”
Miss Sherriff has written to Mr Hunt to confirm arrangements for his visit, asking that this be put in place as soon as possible.
Under the controversial plans Huddersfield Royal Infirmary would be demolished and replaced by a new hospital on the other side of Acre Street with just 64 beds. It would also see the loss of almost 500 jobs.
Its A&E would be shut and replaced by an urgent care centre. This would mean the A&E would only be at Calderdale Royal, which would be expanded to take all the acute services such as intensive care.
At the moment the health trust is paying out a fortune each month on an expensive Private Finance Initiative that was used to pay for Calderdale Royal Hospital and the debt is crippling its finances.
Calderdale Royal Hospital was built for £64m as part of a PFI agreement signed in 1998. But the deal is expected to cost the trust £774m in repayments by 2058. It is now costing the trust £22m a year.
In July councillors on the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee for Calderdale and Kirklees referred plans to reduce services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to the government, after hearing that the plans would mean fewer beds and a loss of jobs. Additionally they were not satisfied that questions on issues such as travel times, parking and the impact on care at home had been properly outlined.
The proposals will now be considered by Mr Hunt.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said that when Mr Hunt comes he will arrange for him to meet Prof Bob Cryan, Vice Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, to discuss the possibility of transforming Huddersfield into a teaching hospital.
A few months ago he said: “We should have a real plan with a gold-standard university for a new medical school in Huddersfield so that we can really attract talent.
“That would do a great deal for morale which would lead to the recruitment of good doctors and nurses everywhere.”