Lives will be put at risk if plans go ahead to downgrade Calderdale Royal Hospital.
That’s the message from campaigners from across Huddersfield and Halifax who gathered in force to protest against a package of proposals put forward for the future of the region’s health service.
The protest was staged at Halifax Town Hall on Saturday before demonstrators took to the streets to march through the town centre and out towards Calderdale Royal.
Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan said: “We have come to protest against the proposed loss of our A&E in Calderdale. For anyone who has to travel these distances in an emergency it is ludicrous.
“We’ve got the weather for it and people have come to support it from Unite and Unison but we still need more signatures for our petition.
“This has come about because of the Government’s social care policy.”
Those taking part in the protest, many holding banners and placards, were slightly disappointed with the turn-out but hope many more people will now get behind the campaign since seeing the march on the streets.
The rally comes after Calderdale Council last week passed a motion to call for the Halifax A&E closure plans to be dropped. Kirklees councillors have also backed protests.
Dan Sutherland, Calderdale ward councillor for Mixenden said: “This clearly shows the passion in which local people value their vital hospital services. In my ward in Mixenden people are very concerned about travelling to Huddersfield for emergency hospital treatment and are hoping there is an alternative solution.”
Fellow councillor Lisa Lambert added: “We’ve yet to be consulted about these proposals and we’ve been putting questions to the cabinet to ask the question of why this is happening and they don’t seem to know what the figures are.
“People’s lives are going to be put at risk. We can’t lose our A&E. I’ve travelled the route and it takes 35 minutes on a quiet Sunday morning. How can that be possible for our emergency care?”
Evangelina Sargeant, 22, said: “I’m from Todmorden and this is going to have such a big impact on people to not have A&E services closer to them. I have also come to support Unison and the workers whose jobs will be affected if this goes ahead.”
Jasmine Grant, 44, said: “I just think its appalling to close down the A&E. People are going to have to travel. It’s just ludicrous. Where are people going to go?
“The decisions of this coalition government are going to hit the poorest people who are going to suffer.”
Two campaign groups, Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Campaign Group and Band Together for the NHS are to present a united front to fight the ‘preferred option’ changes proposed by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
The preferred option is to close A&E at Calderdale Royal.
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