SWEEPING changes to Huddersfield's hospital services have begun.
The massive task of revamping care at the Royal Infirmary and the Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax is under way.
Health bosses have already shifted breast and gynaecology in-patients to the Halifax site.
Now plans are being made to switch other surgical departments, including planned orthopaedic operations, to Halifax over the coming months.
The move comes after a five-month consultation was carried out last year to restructure local health services.
Space is also being reorganised at HRI to make way for complex surgery and trauma victims.
A midwife-led birthing unit will also be developed at HRI, to eventually replace the current maternity service.
But the changes are not expected to be completed until summer next year.
Helen Thomson, director of nursing at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said: "In the consultation there was an awful lot of change, which means there is a huge amount of reorganisation to do.
"The average hospital patient will probably not see any change, because they come through as outpatients or day cases.
"Both hospitals are keeping A&E departments, medical admissions and intensive care.
"If anything, this will improve the service and I think we will see services coming back locally from places like Leeds."
Teams of clinicians, patient groups and management staff have been set up to oversee each department as it moves.
A panel of health chiefs is also meeting every fortnight to manage the project.
Mark Partington, the trust's director of operations, said: "Although there will be quite a bit of movement the broad footprints of the two hospitals will remain the same.
"Both are going to remain very busy.
"It is just the specialities that are changing.
"It is therefore important that the real detail is managed by clinicians and managers," Mr Partington added.
Work to upgrade hospital areas will be carried out as the changes take place.
Extra parking has been created at the Halifax hospital to ease previous problems.
Plans are in the pipeline at HRI to turn the main car park into a multi-storey. An extra 45 spaces are being provided before work starts.