The plans to cut hospital services in Huddersfield has left many feeling like we’ve been singled out.
But Huddersfield is far from alone in the battle to keep its A&E open.
At a town hall meeting three months ago, leader of Kirklees Council, Clr David Sheard, said it was “no consolation” that HRI was on a “long list” of hospitals in the NHS’s crosshairs.
More than 30 other hospitals have been closed or downgraded already with dozens more at threat.
A total of 66 have been affected in some way since the fall of the Labour government in 2010.
While political pressure will help, ultimately it will be NHS officials who decide what is done.
The Department of Health has said it is a local decision but many suspect that the architects of the plan, Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, are merely following NHS England advice.
The National Health Action Party, a political party launched in response to the Coalition Government’s NHS re-organisation, told the Examiner it believed an ideological shift to the whole NHS was well underway.
The party is campaigning for MPs to support the NHS Reinstatement Bill, which would reverse the changes implemented to the NHS that allow more privitisation.
Its leader, Dr Clive Peedell, said: “It is urgent that people understand that this is a complete reconfiguration of the NHS which will not give them the access to services they have been used to in the past.
“What we are seeing is the roll out of Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View across the country.
See pictures from the Examiner's Hands Off HRI battle bus below!
“This undermines the fundamental principles of the NHS. Finances run by management consultants have replaced clinical evidence and expertise as the driving force for providing our healthcare.
“From a local perspective it may be presented as closures and downgradings being forced on services because of financial constraints.
“But this is part of a national picture.
“The financial constraints themselves have been deliberately created by systematic de-funding since 2010. The NHS has had its worst funding settlement ever in that period.
“It typically needs average annual increases of about 3.8%. Instead it has received less than 1%. It was forced to make savage cuts, dressed up as ‘efficiency savings’ between 2010-2015.
“It now faces having to make £22bn more by 2020, when many services are already cut to the bone.”
While other areas have been left with further to travel to their nearest A&E, Kirklees must be one of the only councils to have both of its hospitals’ accident and emergency departments and consultant led maternity units downgraded.
Hospital bosses won permission to scale back A&E provision at Dewsbury more than two years ago. The plan was supposed to be enacted in 2017 but they are now proposing to fast-track it to the end of this summer.
A new midwife-led birthing centre is being built but families needing doctor support will be directed to Pinderfields.
Huddersfield lost its consultant led maternity unit in 2008.