An NHS campaign group has claimed pressure from protesters over a controversial shake-up of services is starting to affect health chiefs’ plans.

The comments come after it was revealed plans to make changes to Huddersfield and Calderdale hospitals have been hit by delays.

As reported, the radical overhaul of health care could lead to the downgrading of A&E at Calderdale Royal Hospital.

Hospital chiefs say they would prefer to have just one full A&E department based at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI).

But health bosses behind the proposals have now admitted objections from Calderdale Council and extra work to reassure NHS England mean plans to hold a formal public consultation in July or August are being put back.

Dr Matt Walsh, chief officer of Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCCG), confessed he was unsure as to when the public would get their say and what the proposal would be.

Halifax MP Linda Riordan said Dr Walsh needed to admit that a “catastrophic error of judgement” had been made in even considering the plan.

Addressing members of Calderdale Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Dr Walsh said he could not tell members what the “timeline” now was.

Calderdale Royal Hospital
Calderdale Royal Hospital
 

“I’m extremely uncertain we will be ready to move to consultation (by August),” he said.

“I can’t tell you when we will be ready as there are conversations we need to have about where we fit these processes in.”

Clr Megan Swift said people were anxiously waiting on updates.

“There’s a lot of very, very worried people out there,” she said.

“They would like to know if their views are going to be listened to.

“I would like to know when the views of the council are going to be listened to.

“We made a request for the preferred option (downgrading CRH A&E) to be dropped but we’re told that isn’t going to happen.”

Dr Walsh responded: “The CCG has listened to what politicians are saying.

“The point is, we need to know how our system needs to work to meet the needs of our population.

“We need to tell a better story and bring people with us. I think we need more time.”

Gary Scott, chairman of Band Together for our NHS, a group formed to block the reduction in A&E services in Calderdale, said their protests had clearly had an impact.

 

He said: “I think Dr Walsh’s comments prove that the pressure our community has brought already has influenced them, and that the proposals are deeply flawed.

“The CCGs don’t need to ‘tell a better story’, they need to re-write the story, only this time after listening to people.

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“I’d call on the CCGs, and the NHS trusts to try a little transparency in their decision making, rather than blindly following the ideological cuts of the coalition government.”

Mrs Riordan added: “Health bosses have yet again misread the public mood.

“It is yet another example of them and the Government hiding behind procedure and pointless platitudes.

“They need to start the consultation process as soon as possible.

“If they are not aware of the public mood about the callous closure proposal they soon will be.

“Better still, stop this closure farce now with a frank admission that a catastrophic error of judgement has been made.”

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