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Huddersfield Royal Infirmary has been saved from closure for now after Jeremy Hunt told local NHS bosses to look again at the plans.

The proposals were to demolish HRI, build a new smaller urgent care centre and move A&E to Calderdale Hospital.

Jeremy Hunt has written to the Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee confirming his decision.

It follows years of campaigning by local groups and the Examiner, fighting the plans.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman tweeted: "Absolutely delighted that the government have ruled the proposals to downgrade Huddersfield Royal Infirmary are flawed and not in the interests of local people. What a victory for the campaign!"

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MPs' reactions

Here’s what our MPs had to say...

http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/what-mps-politicians-say-jeremy-14647168

GPs welcome "fantastic" news

Kirklees Local Medical Committee (LMC), representing 64 GP surgeries and more than 200 GPs , said a “better solution” was needed to maintain high quality health care to local people.

Secretary Bert Jindal said: “It is fantastic news that the IRP and the Secretary of state has recognised the grave concerns that the people of Huddersfield, the local councils and the local medical committee have had about the proposed hospital reconfiguration.

Dr Bert Jindal
Dr Bert Jindal

“We now have the really hard task of working together along with the Hospital trust ,the CCGs ,the local councils and our local communities to devise a better solution so that we can continue to deliver the highest quality of health and community care to the people of Huddersfield and Calderdale..

“It is hoped that progress can be made in the next 3 months to start to consider better alternatives.”

NHS needs "proper" funding

Kirklees Green councillor Andrew Cooper said: “Dead chuffed that Jeremy Hunt has asked for the proposed changes at HRI to be reconsidered.

Kirklees councillor Andrew Cooper
Kirklees councillor Andrew Cooper

“He now needs to reconsider how Govt can properly fund the NHS as well. The 2 issues cannot be looked at separately they need to be considered together.”

Decision "unprecedented" says lawyer

Lawyers representing the Hands Off HRI campaigners said: “We believe that this is the first time the Secretary of State has halted a major reconfiguration of a hospital on this scale. The landmark announcement is a real vindication for the campaign and our clients’ case and a damning indictment for the hospital trust and CCG proposals.”

Yogi Amin, partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The decision of the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to order a reconsideration of the hospital reconfiguration proposals is welcome by my clients. He has highlighted the same failings in the decision making process that we have been highlighting for years as part of our legal campaign.”

Mike Forster hails "brilliant" news

Mike Forster, chairman of Hands Off HRI, hailed the “brilliant” news and said the verdict from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel was “unprecedented.”

He added: “It is a recognition from the Secretary of State that the plans are flawed and it is almost impossible now for the CCG to go ahead as they wish. They must go back to the drawing board.”

Hands Off HRI campaigners outside CCG meeting at Cedar Court Hotel, Huddersfield - Mike Forster.
Mike Forster., chairman of Hands Off HRI

Mr Forster said the decision “completely vindicated” campaigners’ view that the plans were unsafe for the people of Huddersfield.He said he believed the CCG’s defence to their case at the Judicial Review, due to be heard in Leeds from June 12, had been blown apart.

”I am not sure they can now mount a defence,” he said. “We will be speaking to our solicitors about what happens next.”

Thelma Walker's reaction

Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker said the CCG would have to “go back to the drawing board”.

The Labour MP said: “I am delighted that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has listened to local residents, MPs and the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, over the plans to downgrade Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker.
Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker.

“For a long time I have argued, alongside campaigners, that that these plans are not in the best interests of residents in the Colne Valley constituency or Kirklees, and need to be thrown out. I have raised this matter with the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister, made a submission to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, and arranged for campaigners to meet with Jeremy Corbyn MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Jonathan Ashworth MP, and I am pleased that this is the decision which has been reached. It is the right outcome for everyone in Kirklees who depend on HRI for medical treatment.

The CCG must now go back to the drawing board and start listening to local residents, medical professionals and elected representatives, rather than trying to ignore their wishes.”


Jeremy Hunt says HRI is safe for now but ...

Here’s our latest story in today’s shock decision over HRI

Summary of Jeremy Hunt's letter to local health bosses

  • The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IPR) have reported back to Jeremy Hunt after he asked for their advice on plans to close A&E and acute services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
  • The Secretary of State acknowledges the plans have “provoked huge anxiety among local people” who have “raised a variety of concerns”, many to him directly.
  • He says he wanted local health leaders to develop their plans without government interference but the IRP report has highlighted “a wide variety of failings which call into question the benefits of this scheme”.
  • The IRP report found inconsistencies between current plans and the original proposal.
  • The IRP is sceptical whether the plans are actually deliverable.
  • The IRP is particularly concerned about the delivery of out of hospital care if the plans go ahead.
  • The IRP also doubt whether the proposed reduction in hospital beds can be justified.
  • The IRP also doubt whether financial backing would be available for a plan of this size and of this nature.
  • Jeremy Hunt says the plans are not in the best interests of local people and asks NHS bosses locally and nationally to reconsider.
  • He asks local bosses to work together to implement the advice from the IRP and report back to him in three months.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Local health bosses respond to Jeremy Hunt's letter

This a statement issued on behalf of local health bosses, namely; Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust; NHS Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group; and NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group in response to Jeremy hunt’s letter at the Examiner’s request.

“We have today received a copy of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s report to the Secretary of State and his letter of response.

“We note the views of the IRP. We will work with partners on the three areas requested by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and report back to him in three months.

“We also note that the report acknowledges that ‘no change’ is not an option and that change is needed to our current two site services to protect their safety and quality.”

CCG members at a Council meeting about the future of HRI, Huddersfield Town Hall.
CCG members at a Council meeting about the future of HRI, Huddersfield Town Hall.

Statement from campaign group's solicitors

Yogi Amin, head of public law and human rights at Irwin Mitchell representing Hands Off HRI said:

“This is great news for the campaign to save A&E and acute services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

“The decision of the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to order a reconsideration of the hospital reconfiguration is welcome by my clients. He has highlighted the same failings in the decision making process that we’ve been highlighting for years as part of our legal campaign.

“We had already brought a judicial review, supported by the Campaign group Hands off HRI, which highlighted the very same serious flaws in the process and plans as potentially being unlawful in public law terms.

“The case was heading to a full judicial review hearing in the High Court in June this year and we will now consider carefully the response of the CCGs and Hospital Trust board.”

"What a time to be in Huddersfield"

It’s five years to the day since Sean Doyle was saved by HRI staff after suffering a heart attack. This is his response to today’s news:

Labour MP Paula Sherriff says it's a victory

Paula, who is MP for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton said

It’s great that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel has agreed with local people that the proposals are flawed.

This outcome is a real credit to local people who have led an excellent campaign to retain the hospital and services.

Now that Mr Hunt has acknowledged the serious shortfalls of these plans, and himself questioned the financing available, it’s time for him to step in.

The fact is that, deprived of the funding and resources they need, the future of our local NHS services hang in the balance.

Mr Hunt should now accept responsibility and take immediate steps to safeguard the future of HRI.

Paula Sherriff talking in Parliament on the tampon tax
Paula Sherriff talking in Parliament


Statement from Kirklees Council

Kirklees Council has just released a statement, saying scrutiny councillors have welcomed Mr Hunt’s letter.

Clr Liz Smaje, joint chair of the JHSC, said:

It is not saying that the plans have to go completely back to the drawing board, but it does share several concerns highlighted by the scrutiny committee and members of the public.

In particular, there are serious concerns about the difference between the final proposals and the plans which were put forward for consultation, and the overall deliverability of the plan including the out of hospital care.

The committee will now continue its work with all involved.

Meanwhile Clr Adam Wilkinson, the joint chair of the committee, added:

Councillors asked questions regarding the capital finance arrangements for the proposals and I am pleased that this point has been picked up by the Health Secretary.

I am also pleased that he shares the committee’s view that much more work needs to be done to ensure adequate community services are in place.

This "sends a message" but "it's not a done deal"

Christina George, secretary of Hands Off HRI, said the Independent Review Panel’s decision sent a clear message to local NHS bosses.

“This means it’s not a done deal,” she said. “This sends a message to the Trust and both CCGs who have been arrogant with anyone who opposed them since the word go.

“They thought we would go away and they thought the IRP would not order a full review, and they were wrong on both.”

Hands Off HRI secretary 'shed a tear' at the news

Christina George, secretary of Hands Off HRI, which was taking the HRI decision to a Judicial Review next month, said she was “elated” and had shed a tear at the news.

She said: “I am thrilled, delighted - and surprised. I didn’t think we’d hear anything for a while, at least until after the Judicial Review.

“All the way along people thought it was a done deal and that we were wasting our time.

“It’s been two years and three months of absolute hell but we did it because we believed in what we were doing and this has justified everything we have said all along.”

Hands of HRI campaigners (L-R): Christina George, Mark Hemingway, Natalie Ratcliffe, Karl Deitch, Rachael Lilley
Hands of HRI campaigners (L-R): Christina George, Mark Hemingway, Natalie Ratcliffe, Karl Deitch, Rachael Lilley

“Local NHS must reconsider their plans”

Former Colne Valley Conservative MP Jason McCartney has shared his delight at the news and says local health bosses must now reconsider their plans.

The letter in full

This is the full letter sent by Jeremy Hunt to local health bosses urging them to rethink plans to close HRI.

This copy was addressed to Calderdale councillor Adam Wilkinson who is Joint Chair of Calderdale and Kirklees Jint Health Scrutiny Committee.

Cllr Wilkinson tweeted: “Jeremy Hunt has written to me and Cllr Liz Smaje to say he agrees with the JHSC view that hospital reconfiguration plans are NOT in the best interest of the people of Calderdale and Kirklees, and has asked CCGs to think again.”

Jeremy Hunt's letter to local health bosses urging them to reconsider plans to close HRI (part 1)
Jeremy Hunt's letter to local health bosses urging them to reconsider plans to close HRI (part 1)
Jeremy Hunt's letter to local health bosses urging them to reconsider plans to close HRI (part 2)
Jeremy Hunt's letter to local health bosses urging them to reconsider plans to close HRI (part 2)

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman hails 'wonderful victory'

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman described the news as a victory, saying it was ‘wonderful’.

He said: “This is a root and branch radical reappraisal of a defective local health plan.

“I am delighted. All this work campaigning seems to be paying off. I think we should all be very pleased with ourselves.”

Mr Sheerman said he had already been in contact with Owen Williams, Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust’s chief executive, who requested an urgent meeting.

He said: “I think we interpret this in a very radical way. The whole thing has to be thought through.”

In the letter, Jeremy Hunt states: “I would ask the NHS locally and nationally to reconsider,” to which Mr Sheerman said: “Jeremy Hunt controls the finances so to go against his word, the local NHS would be lucky to get any finance for anything.”

He added: “What a wonderful week for Huddersfield. We are staying in the Premier League and we have a victory it seems getting this response from Jeremy Hunt.”

Jeremy Hunt asks "the NHS locally and nationally to reconsider”

The key extract from Jeremy Hunt’s letter to local health bosses reads: “In short, the proposals are not in the best interests of the people of Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield and I would ask the NHS locally and nationally to reconsider.”

Campaigner reaction

Campaigner Karl Deitch, who first launched a Facebook group opposing the plans, was stunned by today’s announcement. He said: “Wowzers. I am a bit speechless for once.” And when the news had sunk in, he added:

It is great that somebody in his position has finally listened. 44,000 people opposed this move from day one and we have always known it would not be good for the people of Huddersfield and Calderdale. It is amazing news that the health secretary now agrees with the campaigners and it shows to everyone who has put so much energy into fighting the plans that they have not wasted a single bit of energy.

Jeremy Hunt says plans have "provoked huge anxiety among local people"

In a letter to local health bosses Jeremy Hunt has pointed out that “the proposed changes have provoked huge anxiety among local people who have raised a variety of concerns, many of which have been made to me directly.”

Statement from CCG and Trust to come

We are waiting for a joint statement from the Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust following this breaking news.

Stay with us as events unfold.