Health Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt prom­ises to come and view hos­pi­tal shake-ups

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

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.”

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