CHILDREN'S wards at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary are to stay open - for the time being.

But health chiefs did say that in the long term they would close and be moved to the Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.

The former Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority decided in March, 2000, that the Infirmary's children's wards and the neo-natal intensive care unit for premature babies would be moved to Halifax.

The move is part of plans to centralise services and build up centres of expertise among doctors at the Infirmary and the Calderdale Royal.

Under the plans, all Huddersfield women were destined to give birth in Halifax.

But an Examiner-led campaign forced health chiefs into a U-turn and allowed the Infirmary's maternity unit to stay.

It was rumoured last week that the children's wards at the Infirmary would close in August and services moved to Halifax.

But the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust assured parents that no date had yet been set to shut the wards.

A spokesman for the trust, which runs the Infirmary and the Calderdale Royal, said: "Implementation dates for service changes have not yet been agreed.

"The trust continues to work towards the implementation of the service principles agreed by the former Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority resolution in March, 2000.

"This established proposals to locate inpatient paediatric and neo-natal care at the Calderdale Royal, with rapid access for paediatric assessment at the Royal Infirmary.

"In addition, it was proposed that specialist maternity services would be based at the Calderdale Royal, with a consultant-supported service at the Royal Infirmary.

"Staff working in the specialist areas of paediatrics and obstetrics are currently involved in developing operational plans to ensure the highest standards of service will be maintained."