“Get your voices heard.”
That was the rallying cry on the second day of our Hands Off HRI battle bus campaign to save Huddersfield’s A&E services.
Everyone from workers and activists to councillors and Huddersfield Giants got on board to urge people to get involved with the public consultations, the first of which was held in Slaithwaite.
The day began with a very slow start when the bus crawled down Elland Bypass to get to Calderdale Royal Hospital from Bradley in rush hour.
Watch a video of the battle bus stuck on the bypass
But it picked up a great pace thanks to the support of people we met.
They all oppose the plan of Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups to replace the town’s A&E with an urgent care unit for non life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
In the plan, Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH), Halifax, will be expanded to focus on unplanned and emergency care.
Groups of people flocked to St George’s Square for the second time, where they signed a petition.
Next stop was to meet the boisterous Huddersfield Giants team.
Second rower Ollie Roberts urged people to sign the petition.
“Huddersfield’s a big town so I think travelling to Calderdale with life-threating problems is pretty dangerous.
“We need somewhere nice and local, so people need to get the petition signed.”
Slaithwaite Town Hall was bursting with residents, eager to find out more about the plans at the first of 15 planned Right Care, Right Time, Right Place consultation sessions.
They would experience one of the longest journey times to Calderdale A&E, which would be their nearest, under the plan.
One, Dr Polly McGrail, said: “I think it’s an extremely effective public relations exercise rather than a consultation.
“I sympathise with some of their difficulties but I think their case is not good for the people of Huddersfield in the future.”
Clr Donna Bellamy for Colne Valley talked about people’s main worries.
“I don't think any one is at all happy about it”, she said.
“Travel time is the largest concern and another is how long it will take the ambulance take to get to the Colne Valley.”
James O’Flynn, co-ordinator for the Upper Colne Valley Hands Off HRI group, told people to go along to their nearest public consultation.
“It’s a good opportunity to let people make their voices heard”, he said.
“I’m conscious though that the chair of the CCG only has one plan and to me it isn’t a consultation if you are only offering one option.
“The worst thing that could happen is that they run a range of consultations and say as no one turned up there is no opposition to their plans.”