Hands Off HRI founder Karl Deitch is to ‘split’ from fellow campaigners who helped him start a movement to save Huddersfield’s A&E.
The high-profile campaign, whose fight to save Huddersfield’s A&E has received prime time TV coverage, has divided into two camps over whether to pursue a ‘political’ direction and join a national cause.
One camp, led by Mr Deitch, wants the campaign to remain local and steer clear of party politics.
The other, led by Hands Off HRI chairman Mike Forster and former campaign secretary Natalie Ratcliffe, wants the campaign to join the national wave of protests against NHS cuts.
Mr Deitch said his side of the campaign would carry on as it had done previously.
He added it strongly opposed the plans but his camp would work with the CCGs to ‘best meet the needs of local people’.
Mr Deitch said: “This isn’t a split in our eyes as our stance has not changed. We have not changed our position and never agreed a national fight.
“However, a few select committee members wish to go national and fight the government. We feel it is best to remain local and collective.
“We would like to reassure people that we are still fighting and we are the same today as we were a year ago.”
Arguments came to a head over whether Hands Off HRI should join the national #ourNHS march on Westminster on March 4.
Mr Forster was one of several NHS campaign leaders to organise the march which is expected to attract up to 100,000 protestors.
Ms Ratcliffe is sole director of the campaign’s registered company Hands Off HRI Ltd. This means Mr Deitch’s splinter group may have to adopt a different name.
She said: “We obviously recognise the crisis in the NHS which is why we are reaching out to other campaigns.
“We understand that the closure of the A&E in our town is not unique to us.”
She added: “Hands Off HRI will carry on as it always has done. Our sole priority and fundraising will go towards the fighting fund to challenge the CCGs.”
Hands Off HRI began in January following the announcement of plans by Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to centralise emergency care at Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax.
The campaign started as Facebook group ‘Let’s Save Huddersfield A&E’ which was set up by Golcar security systems fitter Mr Deitch.