Campaigners bidding to halt plans to scrap an A&E unit in either Huddersfield or Calderdale are gathering legal evidence to scupper the proposal.

Opponents of plans to shake-up healthcare in Kirklees and Calderdale have formed an official group called Band Together For Our NHS (BTFON).

The new group is now mobilising a number of plans and calling for support from everyone who wants to stop health chiefs’ proposals.

As reported, the plans focus on providing more care in the community and could lead to either Huddersfield or Halifax losing its full A&E department.

Opposition to the plan has been growing and last Wednesday, Calderdale Council officially rejected the idea and called for its withdrawal.

BTFON chairman, Gary Scott, who organised a large rally through Halifax against the plan last month, revealed the group was now assembling legal evidence with help from the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, who successfully blocked a similar threat to its A&aE last year.

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He said: “We’re building a legal case as, in our opinion, the NHS hasn’t followed its own rules in this process.

“We think the engagement hasn’t been handled properly and the fact that the hospital trust has stated its preference makes a nonsense of the consultation.

“We’ve already shown with the first protest and the council motion that the groundswell of opinion is against the idea.

Calderdale Council is setting up a People’s Commission which will draw more evidence out.”

Mr Scott said campaigners were undeterred following comments from health chiefs behind the strategic review that they would carry on as planned.

“I’m sure they will plough on,” he said.

“The thing that’s annoyed people is they cancelled public questions at a Calderdale CCG meeting last week after they had invited people to send in questions.

“It just shows it’s politically driven and they’re just implementing national policy.”

Mr Scott, who is also standing as Green Party councillor for the first time in Calderdale, said another protest march through Halifax, with MP Linda Riordan, would take place on May 3.

Campaigners also plan to travel to London to lobby members of the House of Lords on May 6 to coincide with the final reading of the Care Bill, which aims to give the Secretary of State for Health the powers to close hospitals without any effective public consultation.

Mr Scott said they were also meeting with Huddersfield campaigners to share information and said he was “disappointed” that Kirklees Council had not officially rejected the plan yet.

“We do hope it’s not seen as a Halifax versus Huddersfield issue, as of course it will put Huddersfield Royal Infirmary under a lot more pressure if Calderdale’s A&E closes.

“We certainly do want to work very closely with the Huddersfield campaign.

“We’ll be taking petitions with us to Westminster from all over both Kirklees and Calderdale and we really would like Kirklees Council to do the same thing as Calderdale.”

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