CAMPAIGNERS and politicians have reacted strongly to Theresa May’s description of plans to close vital hospital services in Huddersfield as “scaremongering.”
The PM made the comment when quizzed by the Examiner about the future of the town’s A&E services as she met with supporters and members of the press in Dewsbury on Saturday.
When asked about the controversial proposal to close the department as part of hospital shake-up plans, she replied: “My understanding is there’s some scaremongering going on.
“I suggest that people don’t listen to that scaremongering.
“The Conservative party is going to be putting funding into the NHS and ensuring that the NHS at the local level is driven by local people and what local people need.”
Last October hospital chiefs at a Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale CCG board meeting voted unanimously to close the Lindley hospital’s accident and emergency department.
Paula Sherriff, Labour’s candidate for the Dewsbury constituency, has responded to Theresa May’s dismissal of the threat to local services as “scaremongering.”
She said: “With her comments Theresa May has shown an astounding ignorance of the problems facing our local NHS services.
“The truth is that whilst our hospital staff work incredibly hard, Dewsbury has suffered sustained and serious staffing shortages. This is the worrying backdrop to the very real plans to downgrade Dewsbury’s A&E services.
“Taken together with the cuts at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, the whole of Kirklees stands to be left without full A&E facilities, putting services that are already at breaking point under even greater pressure.”
Hospital campaigner Natalie Ratcliffe said: “Having campaigned for the past 16 months along with hundreds of other people including councillors and MPs, I was appalled to hear that the potential closure of our A&E and downbanding of the hospital is scaremongering.
“The campaign to save the hospital is dear to many people.
“This is yet another blunder by the PM. It would perhaps have been good for her to have been briefed beforehand.”
Hands Off HRI founder Karl Deitch earlier this year ‘split’ from his fellow campaigners to steer clear from party politics.
He said: “Theresa May isn’t the enemy, the CCG is.
“You can talk politics all you like but at the end of the day all of that is a waste of time.
“It just gets people angry and our focus is on moving forward.”
Campaigners are now waiting for the CCG to provide their business case behind the proposals later this month before moving froward with potential legal action.