Controversial plans to take emergency care away from Huddersfield is “fraught with danger” and should be paused says a top NHS boss has said.

Mike Ramsden, a panelist at last month’s A&E debate hosted by the university, has again called for an urgent re-think by GPs and health officials on the proposal to switch A&E from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) to Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH) and has condemned the plans as “inconceivable.”

He said he thought consulting on a single option was “fraught with danger” and the public needed confidence that they were being given a say on all possible situations and locations. The option would also see HRI demolished and replaced with a far smaller hospital for planned care with CRH expanded.

But with the colossal amount of funding needed Mr Ramsden believes a range of options should be put forward, not just the one people are being consulted on now.

His comments came after a week which saw a broken down lorry cause massive delays on the Calderdale Way – the main route from Huddersfield to Calderdale – and our revelation that both HRI and CRH were missing their A&E targets, making people wonder how one A&E could possibly cope with the extra demand.

Examiner Save HRI A&E Battle Bus journey to Calderdale Royal Hospital - traffic queueing on Calderdale Way.

Mr Ramsden, chairman of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital Trust, urged doctors to drop their plans to axe the infirmary’s AE when the proposals were first revealed in January.

After listening to the debate he has said he still believes it would be a mistake for the GPs behind the plan to carry on.

Mr Ramsden, who grew up in Holmfirth and has worked in senior positions within the NHS for three decades, said it was time to go back and find new options to consult with the public.

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He said: “To me it’s inconceivable that the CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) would want to carry on with the proposals as they currently stand.

“It’s evident that the CCGs who’ve put forward the plans on behalf of the hospital trust will have learned a lot so far.

“They’ll certainly have understood far better people’s concerns. It’s also very clear there is overwhelming concern from people in the Huddersfield area.

HRI question Time-style event at St Pauls Hall, University of Huddersfield. Panel member, Mike Ramsden.

“The sense comes through that there isn’t confidence in the proposals as they stand.

“Everybody recognises that we can’t stand still, but what people are concerned about is that there’s only one proposal.”

Mr Ramsden said there may well be a case for having only one A&E, but he said officials behind the plan had not yet made the case.

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He said: “It’s not good enough to just say; I’m a doctor, I wouldn’t promote anything that’s not in the interest of my patients.

“People accept that, but they want evidence.

“If we assume for a minute that people accept the case for a single site unplanned care centre, then the debate has to be about what the right location is for that.

Emergency care plans explained below

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“That’s a second stage.

“What we have at the moment is overwhelming public concern for the case for change and then a single site option being put forward that everybody in Huddersfield believes is the wrong location.”

Mr Ramsden said the CCGs’ revelation that they were confident they could secure almost £500m in funding from the Treasury meant other options that retained emergency care in Huddersfield must be possible.

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He said: “Trying to put together finances for something as complex as this that is some way into the future is not an exact science. You have to apply weightings and make assumptions. One persons assumptions would be different to another’s.

“It would be possible to come up with a whole range of potential costs for a development of this magnitude.

LOOK at the traffic on Calderdale way below

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“They’re saying the plan they think is right requires £½ billion of capital investment funding. That’s a huge investment.

“So if they’re in a discussion about that magnitude of investment then they can engage in a discussion about investment that might be a different model of provision.

“It’s been mentioned there would be a case for a single site next to the M62.

“I’m sure people would say, yes that’s a bit less accessible but it’s a better location and we need to consider it.”

Health bosses have hinged much of their argument for axeing an A&E department on a staffing crisis that sees them with roughly half the level of accident and emergency consultants that they are supposed to have.

Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Accident & Emergency Dept. Acre Street, Lindley, Huddersfield.

But Mr Ramsden said moving to a single site system would not fix all their staffing woes.

“The fact is there is a shortage nationally of clinicians in key areas, including emergency departments consultants,” he said.

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“That’s a national problem. No matter how good facilities are locally and how centralised they are, we’ve still got shortages.

“You cannot solve a staffing problem by local initiatives alone.”

Mr Ramsden added: “Everybody would be right to be surprised and disappointed if the CCGs and the hospital trust just decided to press ahead with arrangements as currently set out.

Hospital shake-up explainer below

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“I have no doubt there will be people in Calderdale who will be supportive of the proposals. They are net gainers.

“I’m sure the CCGs would want to be very careful in the way they present responses in favour and those that are against.

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“The right way to do it would be by postcode area.

“They wouldn’t want to be accused of misrepresenting the figures.”

He added: “Where you’re proposing very radical change the critical thing is you have to take people with you.

“I’m not pretending you can get 100% of the population, but where we’re at the moment is a long way from that.”