Campaigners against a planned shake-up of hospital services in Huddersfield are taking their protests to the Conservative Party conference.
Hands Off HRI is urging supporters to join the protest on Sunday (Oct 1), the first day of the conference in Manchester.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) plans to replace the infirmary, which has more than 400 beds, with a 64-bed “planned care” facility and transfer capacity to Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, which will be expanded to have 676 beds.
Health bosses have approved the Full Business Case (FBC) for change, which has been submitted to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and regulator NHS Improvement for scrutiny.
Hands Off HRI campaign spokesman Audley Buckle said councillors on the Kirklees joint health scrutiny panel had voted to refer the CHFT plans to Jeremy Hunt and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).
He said: “We are going to the Tory conference to lobby for the IRP to carry out an in-depth investigation before making their decision. We do not want them to insult the people of Huddersfield by carrying out a brief ‘desktop investigation’ which may simply rubber stamp the plans.”
Hands Off HRI has launched a new petition to build support the call which can be signed online at officialhandsoffhri.org
Mr Buckle said: “We have been out every week, sharing information with the general public and collecting signatures on the petition since councillors referred the whole process to Jeremy Hunt and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.
“Our campaign has now sent a letter to the IRP giving 30 reasons why an in-depth review is the absolute minimum requirement in light of what is being proposed in Huddersfield – namely the demolition of HRI and loss of almost 500 jobs, and the building of little more than a cottage hospital to be funded by yet another PFI.
“As well as marching in Huddersfield this year, we have also taken our campaign to London and Leeds and we are looking forward to raising our profile once again in Manchester. We will assemble outside the Science Museum at 11.50am before taking part in the march through the city, finishing at the Castlefield Arena.”
Visit the public Facebook “Hands Off HRI Official Group” or the Hands Off HRI website for further details.