Fears have been raised that Calderdale  Royal Hospital’s A&E unit could be axed.

The Examiner understands health chiefs are  considering closing the Halifax-based emergency  department and centralising services at Huddersfield  Royal Infirmary (HRI).

Medical Director for Calderdale and Huddersfield  Foundation Trust Barbara Crosse confirmed a  review of A&E services was underway.

Mrs Crosse said “nothing had been decided” and  the public would be consulted towards the end of the  year.

But the Examiner understands  that health chiefs  favour HRI over Calderdale Royal as it is believed to  be in a more central location.

Halifax MP Linda Riordan said she was “very  worried” the town would lose its emergency department and she did not think the area could cope with  just one A&E unit.

Mrs Riordan said she “knew for a fact” that  changes were coming amid a £45m reduction in  funding for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS from  central government.

“The last thing we want to see is the closure of  accident and emergency at Calderdale,” she said.

“It would be a tragedy for both communities.

“We’ve got a population from Todmorden to the  other side of Holmfirth – I don’t think one A&E can  cope with that.

“We need to be vigilant now and keep the pressure  on to maintain our services.

“These changes have got to be in place by 2015 so  it doesn’t give us much time.”

In Parliament Mrs Riordan asked health minister  Jane Ellison late last month for assurances that  Calderdale Royal Hospital’s A&E would stay open.

The minister responded: “Local authorities are  currently reviewing health and social care services,  including emergency care, across the wider Huddersfield and Calderdale area.”

Mrs Riordan said: “I asked for a clear commitment that Calderdale’s accident and emergency ward  was safe and I didn’t get it.

“That is not good enough.”

“We have walk in centres threatened with closure and now the Government won’t come clean about the future of the local A&E unit.

“People who use Calderdale Royal Hospital, and the excellent staff who work there, deserve better. 

Calderdale Royal Hospital
Calderdale Royal Hospital
 

“I will go on raising this issue until I get categorical assurances that the A&E unit is safe from closure or cutbacks.

“What the government is trying to do is wash their hands of it and put it on the local health chiefs.

“They have got to take responsibility and we must hold them to account.”

On Monday evening, Calderdale’s Cabinet revealed they were aware of a National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT) review, which is yet to publish its findings.

The council’s cabinet said they had looked at what the NCAT had recommended nationally which led them to believe A&E at Calderdale Royal Hospital could be at risk.

Clr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council leader, said: “As I understand the official position there has been a NCAT review of hospital services across Calderdale and Huddersfield. It’s likely that, as a result of that review, they will be making recommendations.

“We’ve looked at what has gone on elsewhere in other parts of the country and the future of A&E is one issue people have concerns about.

“I am sure most of us will take a view with some concern, the loss of 24 hour access to emergency health services.”

Calderdale and Kirklees councils’ Scrutiny panels could join forces to make recommendations to the Secretary of State, as they have done with the decision at the Mid Yorkshire Trust to downgrade Dewsbury A&E.

Kirklees leader Clr Mehboob Khan said: “I will be meeting with the Chief Executive of CHFT to urgently discuss with him the implications for reorganisation of services including A&E.

“I will be stating the point that in Kirklees we are already affected by the downgrading of facilities in Dewsbury. We are the seventh largest council in the country and we need a consultant-led A&E service.

“We will be meeting with local MPs to ask for the proposed £45m cut in the NHS budget for Kirklees to be reversed as soon as possible so that both Calderdale and Huddersfield can keep their A&E departments.

“We have seen reductions of A&E across the country. David Cameron said he would cut the deficit not the NHS, those words may come back to haunt him.”

Huddersfield MP, Barry Sheerman, said following a conversation with CHFT chief executive, Owen Williams, that there were “serious challenges” for A&E in the area.

Mr Sheerman said he wanted an intelligent discussion on how to improve A&E.

He said: “There will be a number of ways we can make it better.

“There are problems but I will be disappointed if they come back with just the one brutal option of closing it down.”

Question marks over the future of Calderdale A&E come on the same day as NHS chief Sir Bruce Keogh revealed a new blueprint for urgent care.

Sir Bruce, the National Medical Director of NHS England, has announced a proposal to vastly reduce the amount of patients admitted through A&E.

The NHS says currently two in five patients attending A&E require absolutely no treatment.

Sir Bruce’s plan would see more patients with serious or life threatening conditions receiving treatment in specialised centres instead of at A&E.

A&E departments would be rebranded and split into Major Emergency Centres, which would provide a high range of specialist services and smaller Emergency Centres.

The proposals also include an enhanced 111 service and moves to boost “self care” along with a higher level of ambulance care to allow patients to be completely treated on scene.

Sir Bruce said the current system was under “intense, growing and unsustainable pressure” driven by rising demand from a population that is getting older, a confusing and inconsistent array of services outside hospital, and high public trust in the A&E brand.

Sir Bruce said: “Our vision is simple. Firstly, for those people with urgent but non-life threatening needs we must provide highly responsive, effective and personalised services outside of hospital.

“These services should deliver care in or as close to people’s homes as possible, minimising disruption and inconvenience for patients and their families.

“Secondly, for those people with more serious or life-threatening emergency needs we should ensure they are treated in centres with the very best expertise and facilities in order to maximise their chances of survival and a good recovery.”

Sir Bruce said it was an “illusion” that all A&E’s were equally able to handle anything that came through their doors.

He added: “A&E departments up and down the country offer very different types and levels of service, yet they all carry the same name.

“We need to ensure that there is absolute clarity and transparency about what services different facilities offer and direct or convey patients to the service that can best treat their problem.”