News that Huddersfield's accident and emergency department could close — and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary could be demolished — has shocked the town today.
After more than two years of planning, consultations and debate, hospital chiefs are due to reveal their final decision on the Huddersfield and Calderdale A&E shake up on Wednesday.
Barry Sheerman MP revealed this morning that Huddersfield's A&E department was set to close — then hours later, the Examiner learned the closure plan was part of wider ambitions to demolish HRI and rebuild the hospital on the Acre Mills site.
We've put together a timeline of events — from the first announcement of the A&E changes to today's news — so you can see how the saga has unfolded.
A&E shake-up: A timeline
December 2013 — First hint at A&E plans
Speculation around the merger of casualty units in Huddersfield and Calderdale intensified in December 2013.
Public health minister Jane Ellison said the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS hospital trust was looking to “co-locate” some of its services.
A definition of co-locate is to share a facility. The revelation came from Halifax MP Linda Riordan.
May 2014 — A&E cuts campaigners march
Lives will be put at risk if plans go ahead to downgrade Calderdale Royal Hospital.
That was the message from campaigners from across Huddersfield and Halifax who gathered in force to protest against a package of proposals put forward for the future of the region’s health service.
May 2014 — Top doctor says shake-up will lead to better care
Barbara Crosse, medical director at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT), said she thought a plan to downgrade both Huddersfield and Halifax hospitals’ casualty departments was likely.
June 2014 — £20m cuts plan revealed
Millions of pounds of cuts at Huddersfield and Calderdale hospitals revealed potential for job losses, beds removed, buildings sold and pay cut.
Hospital chiefs’ plans to slash £13.5m from their budget this year were detailed in a document leaked to the Examiner.
June 2014 — Healthwatch Kirklees says health chiefs failed to communicate plans
Rory Deighton, director of Healthwatch Kirklees, said he was “disappointed” with how those behind plans to radically overhaul Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals, had engaged with the public.
July 2014 — Health chiefs consider views from 1000 people
Health chiefs moved on to the next phase in their plan to revamp hospital services.
They considered evidence gathered from a series of meetings and drop-in sessions over the plans — more than 1,000 people had given their views.
August 2014 — Public consultation delayed
The surprise move came after months of campaigning against proposals to create specialist acute and planned hospitals in Huddersfield and Halifax.
November 2014 — Investigation launched at trust slides £4m into the red
Bosses admitted they would be £4m in the red by the end of the year.
Hospital regulator Monitor launched an investigation into why the hospital trust was set to go into a multi-million pound deficit when it planned to deliver a £3m surplus this year.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) has been asked to make £19m savings by the end of March but only identified cuts of roughly £9m.
November 2014 — Cuts revealed: A&E closure and 409 jobs lost
The 200 page dossier was finally published in November, almost a year after the proposals were first rumoured.
The so called ‘Outline Business Case’ (OBC) reveals more than 400 jobs would go over the next ten years if the scheme goes ahead.
The OBC showed hospital chiefs’ plans in detail, including the predicted effects of the closure of the full accident and emergency service at Halifax.
January 2015 — MP warns both could close
His stark comments came as watchdog Monitor rapped Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) for going into the red for the first time in over a decade.
February 2015 — Independent report says plans need rethink
Hospital chiefs planning radical restructuring for Huddersfield and Calderdale were told: Think again.
A panel set up to review proposals to close an A&E department and move most emergency care to Huddersfield said hospital bosses need to go back to the drawing board.
The People’s Commission, formed by Calderdale Council after public protests over the controversial plans, said there is “not convincing evidence” the strategy will work.
June 2015 — Trust set to slide £20m into the red
It was warned Huddersfield and Calderdale hospitals will sink £23m into the red unless emergency cash is offered up by the government.
It was said an urgent £14.9m cash bail out from the Department of Health was needed to avoid the Infirmary and Calderdale Royal going bust.
September 2015 — Plans to be delayed until December?
Controversial plans which could lead to the closure of a local hospital A&E unit were expected to be delayed.
Health bosses, hoping to transfer health services from hospitals to clinics and other community organisations, were due to reveal their plans for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital next in September.
But now the ‘Right Care, Right Time, Right Place’ proposal was held back until December.
December 2015 — Experts back A&E closure plans
Regional health bosses backed Huddersfield NHS chiefs over plans to carry out a controversial shake-up of hospital services.
December 2015: Bosses tight-lipped over which A&E will close
The hospital shake-up plan was expected to be revealed next month following a meeting of health chiefs on January 20.
January 2016 — Wednesday D-Day for A&E closure decision
Health bosses were expected to announce on Wednesday whether a hospital’s A&E department will close.
It was rumoured that Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH) will take the hit.
TODAY — Bombshell news as Huddersfield Royal Infirmary could lose A & E department
The bombshell news was revealed this morning by a “furious” Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.
He described the plan as a complete U-turn by health chiefs who had earlier been said to be in favour of closing the A & E unit at Calderdale Royal Hospital and centralising casualty care in Huddersfield.
TODAY — HRI to be demolished?
This morning's shock announcement was followed by the news that the A&E closure was part of wider plans to demolish the infirmary.
Huddersfield Royal Infirmary could be knocked down as part of a plan to 'downgrade' hospital services in the town.