Elderly, disabled and other vulnerable people visiting seriously ill friends and relatives in hospital could be hit hardest if a local NHS shake-up plan goes ahead.
And vulnerable people will be ‘disproportionately affected’ according to a study – commissioned by Huddersfield and Halifax health chiefs behind the Right Care Right Time Right Place plan.
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The worst affected areas include the Holme and Colne valleys together with areas within the HD8 postcode, such as Shepley.
Under the Right Care Right Time Right Place (RCRTRP) plan emergency care services – including the A&E department – will be closed at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and transferred to Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax.
The study found the journeys of disabled, elderly and disadvantaged people would be particularly affected.
It said: “Regarding the equality impact of the journey time changes, there are many areas within the study area with a high proportion of disadvantaged or vulnerable groups who may be disproportionately affected by the proposals.”
The report also advises health chiefs to work with local public transport operators to reduce the impact on public transport users.
It said: “It is recommended that the trust combines the results of the journey time assessments with their patient data to estimate the numbers of patients affected in those areas with the most significant increases in public transport journey times.
“This will enable a better understanding of the numbers of people affected and enable the identification of mitigation measures to be targeted at those locations.
“Liaison should also take place with public transport providers to identify any potential opportunities for changes to their services.”
The study also found that patients and visitors arriving by car from south Huddersfield may find their journey taking up to 30 minutes longer.
Calderdale Council has plans to ease congestion on the A629 between Ainley Top and Halifax.
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The £4.5m road improvement scheme covers the stretch between Halifax town centre and Salterhebble Hill.
However, it does not cover the infamous northbound stretch of the Elland Bypass where two lanes merge into one causing congestion throughout the day.
Local health campaigner Jenny Shepherd said: “It’s time to recognise that, like the contract the government is trying to force on the junior doctors, these Right Care proposals are not safe and not fair.
“These travel issues are just one demonstration of that.”
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The Examiner contacted Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the local NHS organisations behind the RCRTRP plan.
A spokesperson for the CCGs said: "A detailed analysis was undertaken as part of the pre-consultation business case which considered evidence available in relation to protected characteristic groups, for example, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and carers. This did not identify any high risk impacts."In delivering the consultation, we intend to further understand transport issues and consider what actions we could take to mitigate any adverse impacts identified."