It could take up to an hour to ferry a 999 patient to casualty if Huddersfield’s A&E department closes, a local parademic has warned.

Ambulances are expected to reach top priority emergencies, such as heart attacks, within eight minutes, according to NHS guidelines.

But the anonymous paramedic says such eight-minute responses would become a ‘rarity’ if Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s (HRI) A&E department closed under the Right Care Right Time Right Place (RCRTRP) plan.

The paramedic says reaching emergencies in outlying areas such as Marsden and Meltham from Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH), Halifax, could ‘easily’ take 20 minutes – two-and-a-half times the NHS ‘red one’ target.

Calderdale Royal Hospital
Calderdale Royal Hospital

The ambulance must then rush the patient to the nearest appropriate casualty department – including CRH – which could take another 20 minutes in relatively clear traffic.

In rush hour traffic, which is particularly congested on the A629 Elland bypass just south of CRH, this could take up to an hour.

Because of the high demand, paramedics often deal with back-to-back emergencies.

Shocking video shows gridlock traffic towards Calderdale Royal Hospital during rush hour

Video Loading

Once they have ferried a patient to an A&E department they will often immediately be called to another emergency.

As a result the majority of ambulances will depart for their next 999 call from the nearest casualty department.

The paramedic said: “In a life-threatening situation and if you live in Huddersfield you would get the next available ambulance and that would, for the majority of times, be one that came free at HRI. Under the proposal that will no longer be the case.

“The emergency ambulance would be coming free at CRH and have to negotiate its way up the bypass to Huddersfield before then having to transport its time-critical patient back to the required destination.”

“It is this delay of ‘ambulance to patient’ that has the potential to cost lives as presently we already stabilise patients on scene before transporting them to different treatment centres (major trauma and heart attacks to LGI, strokes, maternity, obstetrics and gynaecology already to CRH).

Pictures: Hands Off HRI rally in St George's Square

“The government target for an ambulance to get to a patient in a life-threatening situation is eight minutes. Does anyone genuinely believe that is going to be achieved for the vast majority of people living in Kirklees?”

The paramedic added: “Eight-minute responses are going to be a rarity.”

Under RCRTRP, CRH would have the closest full A&E department to Huddersfield.

A outline on the plan says: “The ambulance service plays a vital role in the future model of care as they will assist in directing patients to the most appropriate service to meet their care needs.

READ MORE: Hands off HRI: More than 1,000 people turn out for rally in St George's Square

READ MORE: Hands off HRI: NHS boss urges Huddersfield GPs to "be brave" and drop their plans

“We will work with the ambulance service so that patients are taken to the most appropriate service.

“We will work with community services and the ambulance service to establish protocols which enable the decisions around which is the most appropriate service for people to be informed by availability of that service.”

Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the local NHS organisations behind the plan, declined to comment further.