THE independent review of plans for Huddersfield's maternity services has been welcomed.
Groups and individuals are now keen to keep up the pressure to reverse the decision made by health chiefs.
On April 19, Calderdale and Kirklees councils' health overview and scrutiny committees formally referred the maternity services proposals to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.
This has helped lead to the review.
Clr Molly Walton, who represents Crosland Moor and Netherton, will be meeting the Independent Review Panel members on Tuesday, July 11.
She said: "I just hope the panel will take into account the evidence that has been provided.
"They have made an appointment and we shall be speaking to them on the 11th."
The overview committee, of which Clr Walton was a member, has now been disbanded.
Legislation says that where proposed changes cut across two areas or more that a committee is set up to examine the proposals.
Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford said she would like to see a fully-supported, midwife-led unit at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
She joined MP colleagues Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) and Mary Creagh (Wakefield) in pressing for the independent review.
She said: "I want them to be completely open minded and not have pre-conceived ideas."
She said she would be speaking to the midwives. If they were not planning on meeting the panel Ms Mountford said she would include their views in her submission.
Ms Mountford added: "I'm not against midwife-led units. They make the birth a much nicer experience. I had both my children that way.
"But you can't say to people `go there no matter what the risks'. It's a risky business giving birth. People will make the choice to go to Halifax just in case."
Dr Jackie Grunsell, the founder of the Save the NHS Group in Huddersfield, will meet the review panel on the afternoon of the 11th.
She said: "I think moving maternity services is probably the most crazy idea I've ever heard, in terms of risk to life of mother and child."
She said that if the proposals went through it would not improve health services in the area.
Dr Grunsell added: "I will also raise the fact that all the other services should have been included in their remit to look at.
"I would like them to take that back and consider if they could look at the reconfiguration of the other services as well, because I think they're all flawed really."
Dr Grunsell and a delegation of health campaigners are heading for London. They are unhappy the independent review is to look only at maternity services and want Ms Hewitt to look at other services.
Protesters from the Save Our NHS Group, who mounted a massive campaign to keep all services at HRI, are travelling by coach to London on July 25 to make their voices heard in Westminster.
FIRST and foremost, the most important reason for keeping servcies local. The journey time from Huddersfield to Halifax is put at 10 to 12 minutes by health chiefs.
But that is on the road time only. Add in the transfer time ward to ward and that time is likely to be about 30 minutes ... and could quite easily be a lot more. In any medical emergency, time can be a life-saver.
Worryingly, the Elland bypass is often choked with heavy traffic at rush-hour.
THE Huddersfield Royal Infirmary already covers a large geographical area.
People living in some areas of the town could have a long journey to Halifax - especially if they have to rely on public transport.
Many babies have to remain in the special care units for some time - adding to families' problems at a difficult and stressful period of their lives.
HAVING a reduced maternity unit must surely raise questions about the long-term future of babies continuing to be born in Huddersfield.
Every mum wants to have the best care at hand immediately should problems arise. And even mums due to have a trouble-free delivery may not want to take a risk.
Huddersfield would be left the biggest town in the country which does not have its own specialist maternity unit.
Thank you for inviting comment . A look at recent Examiners will show this town has plenty to say and certainly does not feel it has been heard.
The panel states its policy is to ensure "safe, effective and accessible" services.
We do not believe the plan make maternity provision at HRI a midwife-led service qualifies on any of those counts.
Safe: because of the dangers implicit in a six-mile journey to Halifax. Trust bosses quote an on-the-road blue light time of 10-12 minutes between Huddersfield and Halifax. West Yorkshire Ambulance say - including transfers - this would rise to 30 minutes. A very long time at a very crucial period.
Effective: because Huddersfield already has a top-quality full maternity service providing for 2,000 births a year ... of which the town is very proud. This decision would also mean Huddersfield is the largest town in England without full maternity services.
Accessible: because the route between Huddersfield and Halifax is a notorious bottleneck prone to heavy traffic. I hope you will take a look for yourselves at peak commuter times.
Many mums and mums-to-be have come forward to say a midwife led unit is not enough.
No matter how safe a birth is predicted to be, every mum wants medical certainty ... just in case. And having this six miles away is not good enough.
We believe this would lead to more and more mums-to-be taking the `safe' Halifax option and ultimately lead to withdrawal of all maternity services from Huddersfield
Many mums whose deliveries seemed routine have contacted us to say their babies would not have survived that journey and only survived because immediate, consultant-led care was available at Huddersfield.
On your website (www.irpanel.org.uk) you state your aim is to make sure decisions about local services are made at local level by the people affected.
Well, the affected - the people of Huddersfield - spoke out strongly against these plans.
There were three marches, a 50,000-name petition and strong concerns from the council, MPs, midwives, ambulance officers and readers - yet the reforms were voted through almost unchallenged.
On top of that, a delegation from the Examiner, backed by three of our local MPs, handed more
than 7,000 letters of protest to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.
We are already disappointed that planned surgery, gynaecology and
children's services are moving to Halifax.
Please do not allow our maternity service to disappear too.
The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) has been asked by the Secretary of State for Health to review the maternity service proposals put forward by Calderdale, Huddersfield Central and South Huddersfield Primary Care Trusts.
We are looking at whether their proposals will ensure the provision of safe, effective and accessible maternity services for the people of Calderdale and Huddersfield.
As part of our review, we are initially visiting Calderdale and Huddersfield on 7 and 11 July 2006 to talk to staff and patients and meet people who believe they have new evidence that the panel should take into account. If you feel you have any new information, that was not submitted during the formal consultation, or feel you have not been heard we would like to hear from you. Please contact the communications team at West Yorkshire SHA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0113 295 2141.
It is important that our review is open and accountable to the communities of Calderdale and Huddersfield. We will therefore publish our conclusions once they have been considered by the Secretary of State for Health.
Dr Peter Barrett CBE
Chair, Independent Reconfiguration Panel