It’s time for ALL the hospital and health bosses behind the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary downgrade plan to stand down, a former NHS executive has said.
The bold call has come from Mike Ramsden, chairman of campaign group ‘ Let’s Save HRI ’ and himself a former hospital boss, most recently as chairman of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital Trust.
Mr Ramsden, who grew up in the Holme Valley, has told the Examiner that “catastrophic errors” in Huddersfield and Calderdale health chiefs’ plans means they should all resign.
He has said the details in the final document, the Full Business Case (FBC), are very different from the plans consulted on with the public in 2016 and claims he has never seen an NHS reconfiguration plan handled as badly as this.
In his blistering attack on NHS top brass, he says health bosses at the hospital and the two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have either “deliberately misled” the public or made a “catastrophic error” when coming up with the final proposal that was formally submitted to the NHS last month.
After more than 18 months of planning, it was confirmed in July that they want to demolish the infirmary at Lindley and replace it with a 64 bed hospital with a small urgent care centre for minor injuries and a midwife led maternity unit.
All emergency care would be relocated to an expanded Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust is led by chief executive Owen Williams while the board of directors chairman is Andrew Haigh.
Greater Huddersfield CCG is led by chief executive Carol McKenna and Dr Steve Ollerton, whose role is clinical leader and chairman.
None have commented on Mr Ramsden’s demands for them to go.
Calderdale CCG is also a joint partner in the plan.
Mr Ramsden said his call for resignations was supported by many campaigners and some of the local MPs.
He explained: “If you look at the consultation documents, which are the source of so much anger, and compare them with what’s come out of the Full Business Case, there’s substantial differences – the glaring change being the reduction in the number of beds at the new HRI from 120 to 64.
“That is either a colossal error on their part in the consultation document, or it was an attempt to mislead.
“I don’t really believe they would deliberately mislead the public, I think they’ve made a massive error.
“And if you make an error of that magnitude somebody has to be held to account.
“They may say ‘things have changed’, but that’s not good enough when you’re dealing with something of this scale.
“You’ve got to get it right first time.
“I’m absolutely convinced they’ve made a catastrophic error.”
While the hospital has formally proposed the plan Greater Huddersfield CCG recently said it would not be officially approving or rejecting the FBC.
It said would wait until the independent review by the Department of Health was completed and only then would it indicate to NHS England whether or not it supported the plan, taking into account if the FBC was in line with the model that was consulted on and was affordable.
But in a strongly worded rebuke, Mr Ramsden said the officials were hiding behind procedure.
He added: “For the CCG to take that line is a pitiful example of one group playing off the other.
“Saying ‘It’s not us, it’s them’ – sorry it’s a joint project between the CCGs and the hospital.
“I personally hold them equally culpable.
“I’ve dealt with NHS change in a personal capacity and I’ve never seen something as badly handled as this.”
Mr Ramsden said he wished fellow campaign group “ Hands Off HRI ” good luck with their legal action plan but said Let’s Save HRI still believed it was too early to send in the lawyers.
He added: “This is a community issue and it’s not just for the various groups to take action.
“The public has to continue to oppose it in whatever way they can.
“We don’t consider it’s the right time for a judicial review but we will do it if we have to at a later date.
“We think there are other ways of stopping these plans still open to us at the moment.
“We will be continuously applying pressure as we don’t believe the people in charge of the CCGs or the hospital have done the right thing by the people of Huddersfield.
“The CCGs are accountable to NHS England the hospital to NHS Improvement, and we hope to open a dialogue with them.
“After all NHS England did suggest that an A&E was retained at Huddersfield.”