Hospital campaigners are poised to take legal action over plans to move acute care wards from Huddersfield to Halifax.
It emerged this week that Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) was forging ahead with plans to transfer cardiology and respiratory patients from HRI to Calderdale Royal.
NHS activists are worried that health chiefs are moving many of Huddersfield’s vital services to Calderdale Royal before the official decision on the controversial hospital shake-up has been made.
The ward moves were first mooted in September and on Tuesday the staff affected were sent letters scheduling the relocations which begin in just two weeks.
Today, fellow campaign group HoHRI has revealed it had already sent a legal warning to hospital chiefs, calling for them to drop the plans.
With that apparently ignored, HoHRI has said it will apply for an injunction to block the ward moves.
Mike Forster, chairman of HoHRI, accused CHFT of “closure by stealth”.
“We’re going to resist this with every means possible,” he said.
“We’ve written to the unions and we’re urging them and everyone to get involved in stopping these ward moves.
“If they don’t back down we’ll apply for an injunction that orders them to cease everything until the Full Business Case is signed off.”
He added: “They are consulting with staff so it seems in their heads they’re going ahead.
“The only way it can be stopped is through legal action and through the unions.
“They are flying in the face of the whole process and closing this hospital little-by-little before the FBC has been signed off.
Hospital bosses want to move a number of services between the two sites to centralise facilities.
They say it is safer to have all the staff and patients in one place rather than spreading them between two hospitals.
Alongside cardiology/respiratory, the other ward set to move out of Huddersfield is ‘Rehab’.
The plan also includes moving ‘elderly’ out of Calderdale Royal to HRI. General surgery and orthopaedics are set to move wards within HRI.
CHFT’s chief operating officer, Helen Barker, denied the ward moves were linked to the hospital reconfiguration plan.
She said: “The change in location of some of our medical services is not implementation of, or preparation for, the changes that were consulted as part of the Right Care, Right Time, Right Place consultation.
“This is demonstrated by the fact that there are changes on both hospital sites.
“There is definitely no closure of any service, in fact this interim change increases the number of beds at HRI.
“These are very much interim changes essential to ensure we safely manage the pressures expected this winter.
“The trust already has a significant number of services that are provided on a single site either at Calderdale or at Huddersfield.”