Hospital chiefs have been secretly considering keeping a full A&E in Huddersfield, it was revealed today.
The prospect of emergency care being moved to Halifax as part of the unpopular plan to demolish HRI has been hanging over town since January 2016.
But the highly anticipated Full Business Case (FBC), finally published in public this afternoon, shows the fight to keep an A&E in Lindley is not over.
It reveals NHS England asked Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) to include the cost of having a daytime only emergency department at the proposed 64 bed site at Acre Mills in its review – albeit one with reduced opening hours.
It would only be open between 9am and 6.30pm, seven-days-a-week.
Financial modelling by the trust shows having an Acre Mills A&E would add more than £7m a year to its costs until 2025, rising to over £9m by 2042.
The FBC says the idea has been previously rejected on the basis that it “cannot deliver the clinical and workforce benefits” of centralising care in Calderdale.
Clinical leaders at CHFT are thought to be against the idea as the hospital has struggled to recruit enough A&E doctors.
A source has told the Examiner, hospital bosses will tell NHS England that they cannot deliver the plan if they are required to have a daytime A&E in Huddersfield.
The FBC also appears to show the a windfall of just £7m is expected for disposing of the infirmary site in Lindley.
The cost of building a small planned care hospital down the road at Acre Mills is estimated to cost in the region of £133m, with a further £176m spent on upgrading Calderdale Royal.
As previously reported, the trust says it will need a new PFI deal to finance the plan.
The FBC also reveals that if there was no A&E at Acre Mills, about half of the current patients that attend casualty at Huddersfield would be treated by the new Urgent Care Centre and half elsewhere.
The impact will hit Barnsley General Hospital the hardest, with an estimated 2,861 extra attendances per year.
The strain of absorbing Huddersfield’s patients will require it to bring in at least 12 more beds.
Other hospitals expected to pick up some of the slack include Royal Blackburn, Bradford Royal, the Royal Oldham, Pinderfields and Leeds General Infirmary.
None of those are expected to be significantly affected in terms of emergency admissions or bed needs.
In an email to staff this morning, leaked to the Examiner, Chief Executive Owen Williams, said: “Clearly there has been a lot of public concern about the proposals so we are publishing the FBC in its entirety without any form of redaction and we welcome scrutiny from colleagues and the public around the proposed option.”
Hospital board members will be taking a decision on whether to submit the plan to regulator NHS Improvement, formerly Monitor, at its monthly meeting on Thursday.
The plans were last week referred to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.