Health bosses behind a plan which could close Huddersfield’s A&E have admitted they won’t know how much funding they will get... until the proposal goes ahead.
And ‘back-office’ administration staff may face a cull to make the ‘unsustainable’ Right Care Right Time Right Place plan more financially sound.
Now a call has gone out for the plans to be put on hold or they could face a legal challenge.
Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale CCGs, the local NHS organisations behind the plan, made the admission in their response to a report from a panel tasked with scrutinising the proposal.
The Kirklees and Calderdale joint health scrutiny panel had said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ that the plan did not fully address the recurring deficit at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) and Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH) in Halifax.
A&E protestors in Downing Street
The panel has expressed concerns that Right Care Right Time Right Place (RCRTRP) may not receive full funding and has been deemed by overseers NHS England to be ultimately unsustainable.
In its response to the scrutiny panel, Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) said: “We will not gain clarity on funding until we have completed the full business case.
“The CCGs accept and will inform the public and the committee how they intend to proceed should the full business case not enable the CCGs to provide assurance in relation to the financial funding for the proposals.”
Mike Forster of #HandsOffHRI, which is fighting to derail RCRTRP, said the CCGs must now stall their plan which could receive the green light on Thursday.
He said: “By accepting all the recommendations of the joint health scrutiny committee, which they have been forced to acknowledge, it is obvious they cannot proceed on Thursday with their plans.
“We will be writing to them formally advising them that they must stall their plans until they have gathered all the evidence that the joint health scrutiny committee is looking for.
“If they do not follow this advice then clearly they have stepped outside the process and will leave themselves vulnerable to a legal challenge.”
And there could be redundancies among ‘back-office’ staff to help bring in-debt Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT) back into the black.
CHFT, which runs HRI and CRH, is forecast to end 2021/22 £9.5m in the red – if RCRTRP goes ahead.
The cuts to back-office staff would form part of a reduction in administration costs across West Yorkshire.
The CCGs said: “CHFT are working on a West Yorkshire basis to identify efficiencies in the provision of back-office functions which may deliver further contribution to the reduction of the deficit.”
The CCGs did, however, say that CHFT’s deficit would be significantly greater if it continued with the current set-up.
They said: “We would therefore expect the trust to be able to return to a balanced financial position over a longer time period.”
Under RCRTRP, HRI will be demolished and replaced with a smaller hospital.
It will have an urgent care centre but no emergency care unit.
Emergency care will be centralised at CRH.
A decision on whether the plan will go ahead takes place at Cedar Court, Ainley Top, on October 20.