‘People will support our plan once they realise they are receiving better care.’
That’s the message from Dr Steve Ollerton and Dr Alan Brook in defence of their unpopular hospital shake-up plan which will end emergency care in Huddersfield.
Despite majority public opposition to the plan, Huddersfield and Calderdale NHS bosses granted the Right Care Right Time Right Place plan the go-ahead on Thursday.
But one of the key authors of the plan, Dr Alan Brook, said a public consultation revealing that two-thirds of respondents were against it was ‘not a popularity contest.’
The Calderdale CCG (clinical commissioning group) clinical director said: “Consultation is not about asking people if they like something. It’s not about asking them to vote for something.
Video: Dr Steve Ollerton 'confident we are making right decision'
“It’s about presenting them with what is planned and the best way forward to give them an opportunity to tell us if we have missed something or if there was a better way of doing things.
“But it is not a popularity contest.”
Dr Brook added that people would warm to the plan once they saw it provided them with better care.
He said: “We will struggle to explain this degree of change to a lot of people until they start to experience it and find out that it actually works better for them – that they are waiting less time in the urgent care centre than the A&E department.
“If they’ve got something seriously wrong they are whisked to a specialist emergency centre rather than waiting four hours in an A&E.”
Greater Huddersfield CCG clinical director, Dr Steve Ollerton, rebutted accusations of the two CCGs acting as stooges for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The Skelmanthorpe GP said: “I’ve never met Jeremy Hunt and maybe I never will and I’m certainly not a stooge for his ‘grand plan’.
“He always speaks very highly of and wants to invest in the NHS – and indeed they do invest.”
Dr Ollerton added: “But this is not just about money, it’s about the workforce and we can’t be duplicating services in two hospitals which are five miles apart.”