A public consultation on a plan which could close Huddersfield’s A&E will not begin until at least February 22.
But the public will be able to see a draft of the full consultation plan for the Right Care Right Time Right Place proposal from February 15.
The consultation had been pencilled to start on February 8 but it is has been held back after Kirklees and Calderdale health scrutiny councillors were given just hours to examine the document.
At a meeting held by Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – one of two local NHS organisations behind the plan – health bosses said the consultation would be ‘starting soon’.
But CCG chiefs failed to mention a specific date during the meeting on Wednesday.
They did, however, say that the consultation would start after it received the ‘final’ sign-off from scrutiny councillors on February 22.
The CCG board was asked what would happen if the consultation showed the public’s desire for an emergency care centre in Huddersfield.
CCG head of quality and safety, Penny Woodhead, said a ‘range of information’ would be considered and the results of the consultation would be analysed by an ‘independent organisation’.
Ms Woodhead added that the consultation felt like it had ‘been developed from the bottom up’, which was met with sniggers from the audience at the Textile Centre.
During the meeting the board also came under fire from Huddersfield A&E campaigners, including Holmfirth resident Terry Hallworth.
Mr Hallworth accused CCG chiefs of ‘collusion’ and ‘forgone decision making’.
He said: “I have yet to see a single dissenting vote or voice from the GPs and that smells of collusion and methodology of forgone decision making.”
Mr Hallworth added that CCG bosses had treated the public and councillors with ‘disdain and contempt’.
He said: “If the health systems in Huddersfield and Calderdale are in crisis then be honest and open and treat the public as adults.”
Greater Huddersfield CCG chair Carol McKenna replied: “This is about improving patient outcomes and experiences. It is not about making financial savings.
“We will take into account local health needs and national guidelines.”