Login Register

Hands off HRI: More than 1,000 people turn out for rally in St George's Square

Protest against proposed transfer of A&E services from HRI to Calderdale Royal Hospital

More than 1,000 people turned out on Saturday for a rally designed to make health bosses think twice over plans to close Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s A&E department.

The plans have caused outrage in the town since the Examiner revealed them over a week ago.

Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax, would provide the nearest casualty department, but many Kirklees residents say that is not acceptable and want the powers-that-be to rethink the proposals which appear to be based around financial rather than clinical reasons.

So at 1pm on Saturday hundreds of people from councillors and MPs to tots in push chairs to pensioners – some of them in fancy dress – turned out in St George’s Square to drive the message home.

READ MORE: Shocking video shows gridlock traffic towards Calderdale Royal Hospital during rush hour

READ MORE: Kirklees Council hits out at A&E closure plan

Paul Cooney, secretary of Huddersfield Keep Our NHS Public, said: “The main objective is to send a message to the decision-makers in the local NHS about the opposition to their proposals and the people of Huddersfield and the wider area showing solidarity in their determination to fight for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.”

Colne Valley Conservative MP Jason McCartney added: “I think it’s fantastic that the whole community is coming together and being totally united about this.

“To get the message out loud and clear that we keep our Accident and Emergency Department in Huddersfield.

“We are a growing university town which is only going to get bigger and these proposals would leave the whole of Kirklees without any A&E.

“I was appalled and shocked when I heard the proposals. MPs have been getting briefings last year and all the way through they were to relocate A&E from Halifax to Huddersfield.

“Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is in my constituency, I and my mum and dad use it.

“We need an improved A&E here and I will be doing everything I can to fight these plans. I’ve called for a debate in Parliament and am working closely with local MPs, Barry Sheerman, Dewsbury’s Paula Sherriff and Halifax’s Holly Lynch.”

READ MORE: Sign the government petition to save Huddersfield Royal Infimary A&E here

READ MORE: Plan which could see Huddersfield A&E close will slash local NHS debt from £281m to £11m

One person for whom the proposed changes matter more than most was mother-of-three Sam Sykes of Dalton. Her eight-year-old daughter Darcie suffered an outbreak of viral meningitis recently and says she received superb treatment at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Sam, 37, said: “I’m indebted to the staff at HRI. Within 15 minutes we got there and Darcie was being treated. If we had had to go to Calderdale Royal it would have been perhaps 45 minutes to an hour.

“Time is very important in these cases and it could have meant Darcie spending weeks in hospital if she had not been treated so quickly.”

Chris Marsden, chairman of Huddersfield Civic Society, said: “I think it is a very good turn out. I think it’s important that our emergency services are kept in the town. The idea of downsizing our infirmary to a cottage hospital is unacceptable.”

Green Party Leader Coun Andrew Cooper has called for all Kirklees Council buildings and vehicles to be allowed to display ‘Hands off HRI’ and ‘Save our A&E’ posters.

He said: “At last Wednesday’s full council meeting all parties on Kirklees gave unequivocal backing to the campaign to protect NHS services in the area.

“A very tangible and visible example of that support would be to allow the council’s town halls, libraries, offices and other public buildings to display posters and banners in support of the campaign to protect local health services.

“The council could also allow its vehicles such as vans and even bin lorries to be used to display appropriate posters. We need to demonstrate that it is the whole community and the institutions that represent it that oppose these proposals. I will raise this idea with other party leaders and the chief executive of the council.”



Doug Thomson
Huddersfield Town correspondent
Chris Roberts
Huddersfield Giants correspondent
Louise Cooper
Crime correspondent
Nick Lavigueur
Health Correspondent
Joanne Douglas
Local Government Correspondent
Linda Whitwam
Education Correspondent
Henryk Zientek
Business Correspondent
Martin Shaw
Mirfield Correspondent