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Hospital campaigners ask new super health committee if they will step in on HRI A&E plan

West Yorkshire health bosses come together for new joint initiative

Dr Steve Ollerton (3rd from right), Chair of Greater Huddersfield CCG at the new West Yorkshire and Harrogate Joint Committee of CCGs. (Image: ugc)

A super committee of health bosses has launched in West Yorkshire, prompting fears it will force through more NHS cuts in Kirklees.

The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups held its first meeting in Brighouse on Tuesday.

The committee is formed of members of all 11 CCGs in the region – including Greater Huddersfield, North Kirklees and Calderdale.

The joint committee’s aim appears to be to implement the NHS’s controversial Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) cuts.

The STP has earmarked £208m of savings in Kirklees by 2021.

The joint committee’s work plan confirms it is involved in the regional reconfiguration of urgent and emergency care.

Members of ‘Official Hands Off HRI’ and ‘Calderdale and Kirklees 999 call for the NHS’ attended the meeting to ask about the location of services, including the A&E shake-up plan.

But a spokeswoman for the new joint committee has confirmed it has no power to alter or veto the unpopular proposal to downgrade Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and move emergency care to Halifax.

She confirmed Greater Huddersfield CCG retained its autonomy and powers to reconfigure services.

The joint committee is a sub-committee of the 11 CCGs and will work on higher level priorities important to the whole region.

Huddersfield University’s Professor Peter Bradshaw, a former health advisor to the Thatcher government, said NHS bosses had done a poor job of explaining how the region would adapt to having fewer Accident and Emergency departments.

Prof Peter Bradshaw, University of Huddersfield(Image: UGC HDE)

He said: “The express purpose of creating new models of care is to make the NHS affordable.

“By necessity this means reducing reliance on acute hospitals.

“Making the distinction between emergency and urgent need is the starting point and the NHS nationally has articulated this badly to the public – hence the anxiety regarding massive A&E closures across the country.

“With fewer admissions to hospital, expensive beds will be closed with more people being treated at home and therefore, the new committee is so crucial to bang heads together and make STPs work.

“The big gap in public understanding and the cause of unease is that we know where beds will be lost, but other than at a level of rhetoric, it is unclear what quality of care will be available to replace them?”

Referring to the creation of the new joint committee, he added: “The NHS is legendary for its repeated re-organisations and whether this means yet another is a moot point.

“History suggests there are few examples where reorganisations do anything that is entirely new – most contain re-cycled ideas dressed up in a new vocabulary.

“Furthermore, the evidence suggests that the NHS is remarkably impervious to change – clinicians who control the purse strings dislike it and carry on as normal – meaning there is very little evidence of real organisational transformation.”

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