Campaigners against plans for a major shake-up of hospital services have completed a 24-hour vigil outside Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
About a dozen members of campaign group Let’s Save HRI spent all 24 hours encamped outside the entrance to the hospital at Acre Street, Lindley, while many more people joined them for some part of the vigil, which ran from 3pm on Saturday to 3pm on Sunday.
Campaign secretary Nicola Jowett said the campaigners also made their peace with security staff who on Saturday demanded they move their belongings from behind the metal sign outside the hospital and refused to let four of the protesters into the hospital while they were wearing their pink campaign T-shirts.
Nicola said Colne Valley Labour MP Thelma Walker went to “have a word” with staff and the campaigners had also delivered a “peace offering” of chocolate brownies.
The protesters, armed with fold-up chairs, blankets and hot drinks, erected two small gazebos and lit candles as darkness fell.
Nicola, who attended the vigil throughout, said: “Twelve of us stayed all night. There was a bitter wind so we were freezing. I made us some bacon sandwiches on Sunday morning and we have kept going with lots of snacks.
“Everyone has been very supportive. Every other car driver has beeped their horn and the ambulance drivers put on their sirens to show support. A patient in hospital on crutches kept walking past us to have a quick chat.”
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust plans to replace the infirmary – which has more than 400 beds – with a 64-bed “planned care” facility and transfer capacity to Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, which will be expanded to have 676 beds.
Health bosses have approved the Full Business Case (FBC) for change, which is now being submitted to regulator NHS Improvement for scrutiny.
Nicola said more events were planned, adding: “We are also doing a lot of work behind the scenes. We will be speaking to NHS Improvement and making submissions to them.”