Campaigners have celebrated Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to throw out the shake-up plan for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary – but there are warnings of more hard work ahead.
Mr Hunt has backed a report by the Independent Review Panel to scrap plans to demolish HRI and build an urgent care centre across the road.
Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman described the news as a victory and added: “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.”
Colne Valley Labour MP Thelma Walker said: “For a long time I have argued, alongside campaigners, 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.”
Dewsbury Labour MP Paula Sherriff 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.”
Clr Liz Smaje, joint chairman of the Kirklees Council joint health scrutiny committee, which also opposed the plans, said: “(The IRP) 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.”
Clr Adam Wilkinson, the other joint chairman 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.”
Former Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney tweeted: “Delighted that Jeremy Hunt has told local CCGs to go back to the drawing board as plans to downgrade HRI are NOT in the best interests local people. IRP raised big concerns over reduction in hospital beds and future financing – local NHS must reconsider their plans.”