Campaigners hoping to save Huddersfield’s A&E have reacted with anger after the Government announced it would not intervene in a plan which could close the department.
Ministers received a petition with over 49,000 signatures urging them to prevent the closure of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary ’s accident and emergency department.
But hopes of Government intervention were dashed this morning when the Department of Health (DoH) announced the hospital shake-up proposal was ‘a matter for local determination’.
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A DoH statement on the Government petitions website reads: “The Government appreciates that there is local concern about the future of A&E services in Huddersfield. However, this is a matter for local determination.”
The statement adds that the plan must be based on ‘clear clinical evidence’ and says: “It is right that these decisions are led by local clinicians, who best understand the healthcare needs of their local populations, and in consultation with local people.”
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The response has caused anger and disappointment among opponents of the plan.
Colne Valley Lib Dem councillor David Ridgway called the DoH response ‘mealy mouthed’ and said: “I am appalled. The Government is refusing to take any responsibility.
“With the CCGs there is no public accountability and if we can’t complain to Parliament where can we go?
“What does it take? Civil disobedience? Of course I wouldn’t advocate that but we will happily take to the streets for a march.
“They say that this is about the best clinical care but what if the best care is available in Orkney?
“An A&E in Halifax is no use if you’re critically ill in the depths of the Holme or Colne valleys.”
Michael Kennedy commented on the Facebook group Let’s Save Huddersfield A&E: “It’s the response we were expecting – this is the stock answer they’ve given for groups like this nationwide.
“This clearly means we need to drop the politics and target the CCGs.”
The full statement:
“The Government appreciates that there is local concern about the future of A&E services in Huddersfield. However, this is a matter for local determination.
“The local NHS must consult on potential changes to services in the Huddersfield area and the Government understands that no decisions have been made. Members of the public have the opportunity to make their views known during the consultation process.
“The NHS has a responsibility to ensure people have access to the best and safest healthcare possible. This means it must plan ahead and look at how best to secure safe and sustainable NHS healthcare provision.
“The Government is clear that all service changes should be based on clear clinical evidence that they will deliver better outcomes for patients. It is right that these decisions are led by local clinicians, who best understand the healthcare needs of their local populations, and in consultation with local people.
“Any changes must meet the four tests for service change: they must have support from GP commissioners, be based on clinical evidence, demonstrate public and patient engagement, and consider patient choice.”