Labour will today announce that if they win the election they will immediately halt the proposed closure of A&E’s in England and carry out a full scale review of all proposals.
This would lift the threat to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and the downgrade plans across Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust.
Having listened to campaigners and concerned patients up and down the country, Jonathan Ashworth, as Labour health secretary will immediately halt the Tories ‘sustainability and transformation plan’ (STP) programme.
Speaking at a Labour NHS rally in Batley alongside Tracy Brabin, Paula Sherriff and Barry Sheerman, Mr Ashworth, will say: “Labour will put the best interests of patients at the heart of our NHS so today I’m announcing we will halt planned closures to hospitals and other services. We will have a moratorium on the STPs.
“We have listened to the hundreds of patients and campaigners up and down the country that have been pleading with the government to hear their concerns about their local services. Threats of hospitals being closed, A&E services moved miles up the road and children’s wards being shut have caused widespread concern and confusion. What is more, these decisions have been decided behind closed doors, with no genuine involvement of local people. It’s a disgrace.
“The public deserves better. My first job as Secretary of State will be to review every single STP proposal looking at what’s in the interest of quality of patient care. We’ll ask a new body – NHS Excellence – to lead that review. Patients and local communities will be involved at every stage. Local people should be at the heart of decisions about how care is provided.”
Barry Sheerman, seeking re-election as MP for Huddersfield, said: “This is great news for people right across Kirklees. There is a huge amount of anxiety among local people about the potential closure of our accident and emergency department. Labour has always been the party of the NHS and this announcement shows that is just as true today as it always has been.”
Paula Sherriff, seeking re-election as MP for Dewsbury, added: “For years we have been campaigning day in, day out, to keep Dewsbury Hospital open and fight the downgrade plans while the Tories have been deaf to local people’s concerns. I warmly welcome this announcement. It shows that only a vote for Labour in this election is a vote to save our local hospitals.”
The draft plans now published by the 44 STP areas suggest dozens of hospitals face being closed or seeing their services downgraded.
In most areas no final decisions has yet been made by local health chiefs, and some of the hospitals and departments could yet be saved.
NHS England insists the driving force behing the plans was not a need to save cash but to modernise the health service, so that more sick and elderly people are cared for at home.
But Mr Ashworth said the process had been “discredited” because neither local people not doctors had any real input in drawing up the draft plans for their local areas.
He said each cuts plan should be urgently reviewed by an independent body to see if the real driver was a need to save cash due to the Tory spending squeeze.
“Labour supports the principle of redesigning health and care services to deliver greater integration of care and to spend money more efficiently,” he said.
“However, STPs have already become entirely discredited.
“This latest top-down reorganisation doesn’t have the support of the public or those who work on the frontline in the NHS.”