The closure of Huddersfield’s A&E could lead to an extra 157 deaths a year.

That’s the shocking warning Huddersfield and Colne Valley MPs, Barry Sheerman and Jason McCartney have issued to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to block a hospital shake-up plan.

In a cross-party letter Labour Mr Sheerman and Conservative Mr McCartney ask Mr Hunt to consider issuing a ‘ministerial directive’ against the Right Care Right Time Right Place proposal.

Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney
Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney

The letter signed by both MPs says: “According to one analysis we have seen, the decision to close our A&E would make Huddersfield the largest town or city not to have a major A&E within five miles, and the decision could lead to 157 more deaths each year.

“The situation will be made even worse if Dewsbury loses its A&E, which is another likely possibility.”

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The official Commons letter, slams the PFI deal and urges Mr Hunt to intervene.

It says: “It is a scandal that Huddersfield looks set to lose its A&E service because of this terrible deal, especially since our own hospital, Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI), did not accrue this burden of debt.

“It is wrong to ask the people of Huddersfield to bail out a debt that historically has nothing to do with the town.

“Everyone understands that financial considerations are very important, but ultimately healthcare outcomes and patient safety have to come first.”

Huddersfield Royal Infirmary's Accident & Emergency Dept and Barry Sheerman

Mr Sheerman and Mr McCartney argue that the cash used to rebuild a smaller HRI and expand Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax, could be ‘better spent on retaining and better managing A&E in both Halifax and Huddersfield’.

The letter concludes: “We would like to meet with you to discuss the future of healthcare in Huddersfield and Calderdale and ultimately urge you to consider issuing a ministerial directive against what is being proposed.”

READ MORE: MP Barry Sheerman says health bosses told him to be quiet about plan to close HRI A&E

READ MORE: Hands Off HRI: Campaigning MPs secure debate in Parliament next week

How the '157 deaths' figure was calculated

The 157 deaths calculations have come from Mr Sheerman’s office via a statistician.

Research in the Emergency Medical Journal shows that around an extra 1% of emergency admissions to A&E will die per 10km of additional distance to A&E number 2.

A&E attendance data for HRI shows there were 69,096 attendances in 2012/133. This is 49% of the total of 141,140 in Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust for that year.

There were 44,328 emergency admissions to Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust in 2012/13; which is 31.4% of total admissions.

Applying this percentage to the total HRI attendance produces an estimate of 21,696 emergency cases in HRI that would presumably travel to Halifax instead.

Allowing for a conservative 1.5% rise in attendance since 2012/13 this gives a figure of 22,021.

The distance between the two hospitals is 5.1m (8.2km). Given the hospital locations, most HRI patients will travel all or most of this additional distance, with an average estimated at 7km. Therefore the total extra number of kilometres travelled by patients is 22,021 x 7 which equals 154,147.

Therefore the number of extra deaths estimated (based on 1.02 per 1,000km) per year is 157 – a figure which could rise significantly if the impact of the downgrade of Dewsbury A&E is also factored in.