Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman has today called on healthcare leaders to suspend their plans to reconfigure hospital services in the town.

He has urged an independent inquiry to review the future provision of health and community care services in the area and labelled the current proposals as a “disaster and a castle built on sand”.

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Just hours before health chiefs hosted a public meeting in Huddersfield on the controversial hospital reshuffle plans, Mr Sheerman said: “The CCGs are making too many assumptions and not providing enough evidence to convince me that these plans wouldn’t be a disaster for the people of Huddersfield and neighbouring towns.

“In reading the available information and talking to health professionals I feel the

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CCGs have started with an objective to close Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) and then attempted to justify it by proposing half cooked plans that lack any real thought or depth.

“One of my main concerns is that by attempting to save money by closing Huddersfield Royal Infirmary the CCGs are just passing costs on to others.”

Mr Sheerman’s comments have now gone to the CCG groups and to Health Secretaery Jeremy Hunt and the veteran MP said he was prepared to ask Mr Hunt to halt the consultation.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the Tory Conference, Manchester 2015
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Under the proposals the Infirmary would lsoe its A & E servcies and the hospital would be replaced with a much smaller unit. Emergency care would be concentrated at Calderdale Royal Hospital .

Mr Sheerman is particularly concerned about the impact on ambulance services and fears that many constituents will be left without emergency support because of the increased demand and longer journey times to Halifax.

He shares many of the worries raised by his constituents about access to services located in Halifax especially for those living in more rural parts of the town, the elderly and the socially disadvantaged.

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He also says that some health professionals have questioned whether the Calderdale

Royal Hospital site is big enough to cope with future demand which is a central argument of the CCGs reconfiguration plans.

The Huddersfield MP’s response also highlights the lack of detail on how alternative services proposed by the CCGs would replace those lost at HRI.

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“I do welcome healthcare initiatives to support people in their own homes and local communities. However what investment will be required to develop these sufficiently to cope with this increased demand? I have heard lots of negative stories about NHS111; I also hear about how GPs are overstretched and now with 3,000 community pharmacies nationwide facing the axe will my constituents be able to access even a basic level of care?”

The new entrance to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary

In a further attack on the proposals Mr Sheerman questions whether the proposed Planned Care Centre for the Acre Mills site would ever be built.

“I can’t help but feel that a 120 bed elective surgery centre, essentially a satellite of the CRH, would always be at risk of closure in future spending cuts - if it is ever built at all. For Huddersfield, a major commercial and population centre to be left without an acute hospital service is unthinkable.”

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He called for a halt to these plans and for an independent inquiry to be launched to take a full and impartial look at the future health service needs and requirements of Huddersfield and neighbouring towns.

“Without a comprehensive and fully costed strategy on future health and community care needs, one that also considers social care, no one can say that these proposals can deliver what is best for the people of Huddersfield. I stand ready to work with anyone and everyone to ensure we provide NHS and community and social care services we can all be proud of.”