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Closure of A and E at Halifax

From Mo Norwood

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Linda Riordan MP in the Evening Courier has stated that it is official the Halifax A and E is set for closure.

Now there is something worth campaigning about?

From Veronica Roberts

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Hoping that the possible closure of A and E at Halifax doesn't happen. This has been talked about for some time. Let's hope the Trust keeps it open.

From Nina Smith

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

We should be very concerned at the possibility of the A&E department at Halifax hospital closing. It is very strange that this proposal is being considered at a time when A&E departments across the country are under severe pressure due to the scale of usage.

Whereas it can be sensible to concentrate highly specialist services such as stroke, coronary, and severe injury trauma in one hospital with a specialist unit, I cannot see what sense it makes to centralise the treatment of less serious injuries.

The increased travel time and sheer inconvenience of going to Huddersfield is just not acceptable. This seems to be yet another flawed initiative in a society in which those with power increasingly know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

From Susan Quick

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Nina is absolutely right the proposal to close the A&E at Halifax is unspeakable. What do those of us unable to drive do? Call an ambulance for minor injuries? Or spend a fortune on a taxi? Travelling all the way to Huddersfield is no joke for anyone. Here we go again. Remember when they decided to move the maternity ward to Huddersfield? We have to campaign again, this time to keep the A&E. What a waste of precious time and energy. Why can't the people who make these decisions consider the implications and realise there are far better ways to save money?

From Kez Armitage

Sunday, 2 March 2014

There are so many unanswered questions.

There's an interesting article on the consequences of closing A&E units. Yes, I know it's Daily Mail journalism but it's still worth reading, and provides evidence that closures cost lives.

And then we hear that Todmorden Health Centre will be enhanced, but we don't seem to know exactly how, and what emergency procedures it will be able to undertake. Certainly there's room in that vast over-specified building. If it could provide triage, emergency transport, and basic A&E services, then surely that would be a good thing for the people of Tod and Hebden Bridge. But we simply don't know.

So in the meantime we must keep on fighting, and halt this insidious erosion of our public services.

From Eleanor Land

Monday, 3 March 2014

You should be very scared of Hunt, if he doesn't get his way he changes the rules, as Lewisham Hospital will no doubt find in the near future. This government hate the NHS, they will use every method at their disposal to privatise it and flog off our records to the highest bidder. They've already given our hospital records to the Insurance companies. They wouldn't be able to do any of it without the connivance of the Lib Dems.

From Peter Robson

Monday, 3 March 2014

You may be aware that a public meeting has been called to 'Save our A&E' on Saturday 29th March 2014 12.30pm at the Halifax Leisure Centre, North Bridge HX3 6TE.

We were on the streets of Halifax on Saturday promoting the above and were absolutely swamped with interest and rage at this decision. The NHS Trust has now announced a public consultation which is likely to result in the loss of our Accident and Emergency Department to Huddersfield. This is not an 'either or' option; we desperately need to retain both A and E departments.

This is part of this government's plan to slash and privatise the NHS. By 2015 they will have cut £20 billion of the NHS budget. In the last 20 years, they have halved hospital beds from 297, 000 to 135,000. They have closed one third of walk in centres only set up 7 years ago with 4,000 full time nursing posts slashed too. Over 100 private finance (PFI) hospitals (of which Calderdale is one) are repaying a total of £65 billion for £11 billion investment. Not easy reading folks!

Calderdale hospital say they want to save £30 million but is saddled with huge debt. We cannot stand by and simply allow this to happen, allow the NHS go the same way an American privatised system. If this goes ahead, people will die sadly! The fight back must start with mass resistance to the 'trust's' plans. A huge campaign is now under way but we can only defeat this trust if there are thousands on the streets. Don't stand on the side lines, but help us to mobilise the same numbers as Lewisham who saved their A&E by getting 50,000 to march. People power will win.

I am well aware that there is already a lively campaign in the upper Calder Valley, However, Unison are now also active in the Calderdale campaign and you can view this here and pledge support.

In solidarity
Peter Robson
Socialist Party
Halifax and Huddersfield.

From S M Morville

Monday, 3 March 2014

Can someone just reminded me who introduced the PFI Scheme in the first place. Those who mortgaged our health care forever. The name Blair backed by Prescott comes to mind or am I wrong?

From Peter Robson

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

You are right, it did begin with 'new labour' and this puts the labour party in a position to say the least! It is hard for them to defend the people let alone be seen as the party for the working class. They began PFI which as we know has 'crippled' the NHS.

We spoke to Linda Riordan on Saturday (Halifax MP) along with other Labour Party activists and we are of the opinion I hope that we need to work together. However, we on the left are not convinced Labour would do much if anything to stop the advancing privatisation of public services. But maybe that is a debate for another day.

I understand the students at Calderdale college are organising a demo in Halifax town centre on 15th March re the closure of A&E, info on their Facebook site. This is impressive though and with the youth mobilising shows the level of anger already!

Peter Robson

From Darren G

Thursday, 6 March 2014

It has also been reported that our MP Craig Whittaker would prefer plan 4 and that is to close Halifax and Huddersfield and we all use Leeds A&E. I'm not sure he's serious but I can believe anything from him.

If we want our A&E there is only one way of keeping it and thats to campaign each and every one of us.

From Eleanor Land

Thursday, 6 March 2014

If Craig Whittaker really does want Halifax and Huddersfield A & E's to close, he wants his head testing. Almost certainly some people will die before they reach an A & E an hour travelling distance from their homes, are they just going to be collateral damage.

From Cllr James Baker

Thursday, 6 March 2014

I think it's important that all of us work together to help save A&E. As Liberal Democrats we are calling for a cross-party and (non-party) approach and a broad coalition of opposition.

There are multiple complex factors at play. The crippling PFI repayments, which are like the wonga loans of the public sector. The fact there is a massive reorganization within the NHS, that budgets have been frozen whereas healthcare inflation is high, pressures from an aging population and demographics.

Really as a country we need to spend more on health per GDP, and perhaps less on things like a trident replacement.

From Paul Clarke

Saturday, 8 March 2014

I note the Lib Dems want to build a popular front against the proposed closure of Halifax A and E which is actually happening under a Con DEM government

I wonder why they weren't so keen to adopt a similar approach during the Iraq war when despite our then Labour MP voted against the war and there was total opposition from local Labour activists.

Instead no Focus leaflet was complete with a picture of Blair with Bush as rather than unite against the war they decided to exploit people's anger for short term electoral gain which has now been thrown away during their years propping up the Tories in Westminster.

I would never make common cause with Lib Dems on any issue as their commitment tends to last as long as their 'promise' to scrap tuition fees.

From Peter Robson

Monday, 10 March 2014

You are right James, we need to have concerted effort to topple this government! In fairness, I was at the Lib Dem demo in York on Saturday and yes we were vocal. We shouted and demonstrated but we did talk to many good Lib Dem's who were very unhappy with Nick Clegg and how their party had been taken over. Sadly, Lib dem councillors up and down the country have voted in huge cuts to our services as in Calderdale that affect vulnerable people.

Just to remind you good people the demo re the NHS and the closure of the A&E is this Saturday 15th at 12 noon next to the shay stadium at Hunger Hill (how appropriate) and then marching into town. Let's have a good show as this will be the beginning of a strong message and a mass movement.

In solidarity

Peter Robson

From Peter Robson

Monday, 17 March 2014

Was an excellent turn out on Saturday in Halifax for the demo, good to see lots of people from all over the district. We set off, all 250 of us from Hunger Hill (seems appropriate) outside the Shay and walked into town, clowns (well done Gary for the outfit and organising the event), jesters and all! You could hear the anger at this disgraceful proposal by the rich posh boys!

There was plenty of chanting, with us winding our way through the town centre to a rally outside the council offices. The message was clear; 'no if's no but's no NHS cuts' rang out loud and clear en route, with plenty of people joining the march. This is the beginning of a clear message to Hunt and his 'old etonians' that we will not just allow this to happen and there will be a fight back. It is interesting how we go in a matter of weeks from 'it will happen anyway' to a march of this size.

Just a reminder that the public meeting takes place at the north bridge centre in Halifax on Saturday 29th march at 12.30.

Peter Robson

From Janet Balmforth

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Has anyone else heard the rumours that this is not just about the closure of the A&E at Halifax but that more departments are to be moved over to Huddersfield as well - including maternity and childrens services. I've heard that Calderdale is to go from being a 650 bed hospital to 100 beds. Can anyone confirm this?

From Cllr Tim Swift

Thursday, 20 March 2014

This is much more than a rumour. As we outlined on our website last week this is quite explicitly set out in the detailed documents now released by the Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Trust.

You can download the full document from the following location.

From Paul Clarke

Thursday, 20 March 2014

I've returned from Good Shepherd meeting about our NHS trust which featured one of the most depressing/bogus presentations I've ever sat through.

The PR person from the trust was trying to convince us that we should spend another 20 minutes or so on an ambulance to an A and E in Huddersfield cos we are 'skint.'

I asked her exactly how much money the trust would save by closing Halifax A and E as that is price of the life of the first person to die in an ambulance en route to Huddersfield. The answer - I kid you not - was 'I don't know'. This after trying to convince us shutting Halifax makes clinical sense and presumably the trust less 'skint'.

Someone asked whether the rationale for the trust board preferring to close Halifax A and E would be made public. Seems not as that would make it appear like a 'stitch up' not telling the public why they want us to travel another 20 minutes while seriously ill.

Depressing in one way but hopeful in another that their arguments are so lame.

My thanks to local churches for organising this event which was a real eye opener to the trust's tactics and arguments.

From Graham Barker

Friday, 21 March 2014

Thanks to Paul for attending the meeting and exposing the shallowness of the case for change, and to Tim for providing a link to the relevant documentation. From the point of view of patients, the proposal to concentrate A&E and other key services at Huddersfield inspires no confidence whatsoever and is indeed probably a disaster waiting to happen.

From a financial point of view, matters may be even worse. The elephant in the room is surely the PFI deal that funded Halifax hospital. If the proposed changes go ahead, the PFI repayment debt will continue to be a massive drain on NHS funds but we'll then be paying through the nose for resources we no longer have. As far as I can see, the Strategic Outline Case document doesn't even mention PFI, let alone give it consideration.

Does this omission mean we're being deliberately hoodwinked, or is it just another example of sloppy thinking driven by bean counting and special interests? Or both?

From Peter Robson

Sunday, 23 March 2014

PFI is 'crippling' the NHS. Just look at the experience of the Mid Yorkshire Trust covering Dewsbury /Pinderfields and Pontefract. They are in chaos. This Trust after two years of protests and meetings have announced the closure of essential services at Dewsbury which will be moved to Wakefield. However, as sad as this is, we pushed them all the way and gained a review which Hunt was not interested in. He had made up his mind.

At Calderdale Hospital this week we were handing out information for the coming rally. We had a fantastic response from the staff to the degree when we went into the canteen to talk to them a few came up to us to take posters /leaflets and petitions. This I think is the only way to build a mass response by the staff leading a fight back. There is a level of anger amongst these workers and I think there will be a good response from them this Saturday.

From Peter Robson

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Great turn out in Halifax yesterday for the meeting to save our A&E department, full report here which covers really well the meeting. Again, significant anger from the floor and also the platform, however, this cannot be left to a few activists, we have to build from the community. It was really encouraging to see the forms filled in by literally everyone to give their details etc.

The lessons from Lewisham and Stafford will be really useful for us also and it would certainly be good to invite activists from these campaigns. I understand we are in the process of doing this.

There is a meeting planned for the Hebden Bridge /Todmorden area, and of course we are planning a big demo in Halifax soon. The district must come together to push these draconian proposals out, Hunt and his cronies will listen but it will, as I have said, need people power.

From Susi Harris

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Really interesting article on this: I admit, I was sitting on fence till I read it (thinking might be nice for Hebden and Tod to have urgent care centre on doorstep) - but no more - this is nasty privatisation and we do need to fight it.

From Eleanor Land

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Thank you for that information, Susi. I have read the article, all it does is to confirm to me that the Coalition is preparing the NHS for more privatisation. The fact that neither party has a mandate for this seems to have slipped their minds. They are too busy looking for backhanders - a.k.a donations to their party funds - and a nice little earner should they get booted out in 2015. Our health is definitely not safe in their hands, and neither is the NHS. They obviously believe the electorate to be fools.

From Paul Clarke

Friday, 4 April 2014

My apologies for not reporting back from the Foundation Trust presentation at the ward forum of their preference to downsize Halifax A and E but I am still shell shocked how incompetent and disingenuous it was.

I've been going to public meetings for over 30 years and I have never seen a presentation so full of Doublethink and Newspeak that would have put Big Brother to shame.

This is the second time I have sat through it -the first delivered in a sing song voice that was patronising beyond belief and this one was as if we were all a bit thick. Always a dangerous tactic in front of a HB audience.

Essentially the trust's tactic is to say to us in the first half of the presentation that we need integrated services with the patient at the centre of their interaction with the NHS or social care. No one would disagree with that.

Now here is the kicker - they then go onto say in order to make this happen then their preference is to downgrade Halifax A and E into some sort of minor injuries facility. So if you are really ill in the back of an ambulance then you can just spend another 20 minutes fighting your way across the M62 to Huddersfield.

As you might expect people thought that wasn't such a good idea.

Unlike the two presenters I'd actually read the turgid Strategic Outline Case that underpins this nonsense. One of the trust's non-exec directors - but not a clinician- had been wheeled on and she said there were four options on the table. I had to pull her up by pointing out there were actually five options. It does help to do some homework when you are trying to cut a vital local service.

Her mate had put up a slide that said underpinning this review is 'services close to home' and I was forced to point out that for me A and E in Huddersfield is not 'close to home.'

It got worse as she told us that the trust has the 'same money' but more demand. I pointed in her own review it says 'The NHS is set to receive just under 1% increased funding per annum at a time when it estimated that we will have to generate a 5% efficiency saving per annum.' I make that a 4% gap not the 'same money'.

So the logical question is how much is this downgrading of our A &E going to save? I've asked this question twice now and no figure has been produced. This time I was told 'it is not about money.' Yeah right.

The Trust also showed us their pretend consultation. Cllr Steve Sweeney pointed out this was being rammed through in two months when it should be at least 6 months given how angry people are.

Aly Miles also picked up the fact that the Trust are proposing five consultation events for the whole of Calderdale . . . or about 80,000 per event . . . or 8000 per hour. Joke doesn't come close to describing it.

Jenny Shepherd also weighted with a quietly spoken demolition job that really threw them and perhaps she will tell us about that.

I am still fuming that a public body can treat us as idiots. My only consultation was their arguments were comprehensively ripped to pieces.

They are back at the next ward forum and I would urge as many people as possible to go along and tell them loud and clear that downgrading out A and E is not on.

Don't be scared as it's not hard to blow their feeble case out of the water.

From Elleigh M

Saturday, 5 April 2014

I fear the closure may happen. I heard from a source that the hospital building is unfit for purpose. There are closed empty wards you can see as you walk round. I believe the original ground plans were as a hotel. Bovis who own the building charge for any work that needs doing, even for simple jobs like putting up a notice board.

Just to illustrate how he NHS has gone I am aware that GP's in Huddersfield charge another NHS service for use of their rooms. So they want to refer their patients.

For cbt on the NHS however then charge that service for hire of the room in their surgery, even though it could be their own patient being seen. Therefore said CBT service paying many surgeries and cannot reach as many due to cost .

Next they will be charging midwives, chiropodist etc. to use their rooms, or will they? Is it just reserved for mental health?

I know not of anywhere else this happens in the UK but it may do.

From John Smithson

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Interesting article in today's FT about the looming disaster of PFI for the NHS.

Note, this pernicious initiative has been promulgated by all 3 political parties, so no point scoring by the usual suspects please.

From Peter Robson

Friday, 11 April 2014

Interesting meeting at the arts centre near the Shay Stadium in Halifax last night. Kind of the Arts Centre to give us the venue at short notice and indeed, are happy to be involved in the campaign. I will keep it brief as was a longer meeting than expected.

We are fearful now that the trust will 'plough' ahead regardless of the opposition however, this is not say that we are defeatist in the least. Some people had attended the CCG (Calderdale clinical commissioning group) meeting earlier in the day and were staggered when a CCG executive approached them and admitted he did not understand either the process or the consequences.

However, what we do understand is that they (CCG) are forcing the issue and have now reduced the time scale of consultation to about eight weeks, we are well into that. This is a common tactic when bargaining in the work place used by employers to reduce resistance from workers and Union activists on this page will clearly see this for what it is.

That aside, the word has got out to the Trust that there is now a 'fight back', a further demonstration is planned in Halifax for 3rd May, details to follow.

There were nearly fifty people at the meeting last night from all walks of life. We made it clear to the Labour Party and Unison (which I am a member - not Labour) that this is not wholly run by them and that we have to be respected as individual groups of people. This was accepted by the meeting. We did also say that there needs to be more meetings in the upper Calder valley, we are now actively looking for venues in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.

From Jenny Shepherd

Friday, 11 April 2014

Paul Robson, we held the meeting of Upper Calder Valley Save our A&Es that kicked off the campaign in the Fox & Goose, which I would recommend for any future meetings. If you'd like to go on the UCV Save our A&Es mailing list please email me. I send out a weekly email updating current campaign info.

From Peter Robson

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Are you the Jenny that was at the meeting in Halifax on Thursday?, I particularly don't want to get into who started what first or 'kicked off' first and contestability, but good that there are things happening through the district. We held a stall in Huddersfield today and had a great response to promoting the Public meeting in the town at the Methodist mission in Lord Street (Huddersfield) 1st may at 7pm. We have always said this has to be a joint effort across Kirklees and Calderdale and has to be held in different villages and towns not just one centralised location. Maybe good for some people to come through as there will be people from the Dewsbury save our hospital campaign that have a lot of experience of this dispute.

From S.M.Morville

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

On Sunday the 13th of April I was admitted to Halifax A&E suffering from extreme chest pain the paramedics where brilliant professional and caring.

We cannot lose this local care, the Medical team at Halifax were wonderful, fast and spot on with everything they did. Fight for this local care and don't lose it.

From Peter Robson

Monday, 5 May 2014

What a powerful message sent yesterday by the three hundred protestors walking through Halifax past the Shay to the hospital.

The staff at the hospital could see us and waved giving the thumbs up sign. The demonstration was an eclectic mix of gender, young and old with different cultures fully representing the districts diverse communities standing together.

We will continue to fight for the NHS, it is ours not theirs, whatever Hunt says. The message is getting across though, my partner works in the Probation Service and the recent strike action she has taken against privatisation has made it unattractive now for the venture vultures that circle it.

Already Grayling has pushed back the date for privatisation of that service and indeed, it is in chaos re the tendering process. The same principle applies to the NHS, resistance is not futile, again, this will push the management and directors back and hopefully make them think.

From Lizzie W

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Have attended appointment at Calderdale Royal today. Staff I spoke to laughed at protesters opposing A&E closure saying it's a done deal. It will close in Halifax, no question. Appalled but sadly not surprised. What is the country coming to?

From Benny M

Friday, 16 May 2014

Yesterday I had occasion to take a friend a clinic in Huddersfield due to a technical failure at Halifax. Aside from the horrendous journey, the appointments were running an hour plus behind schedule which allowed me to roam at will through the main reception area.

The place was filthy. In particular, the toilet facilities. Stained grouting black mould in urinals and toilet bowls disgusting throughout. Is this what we have to look forward to.

From Graham Barker

Friday, 16 May 2014

I agree entirely with Benny's dim view of Huddersfield. On a few visits over the past couple of years I've always got a strong impression of a creaky building coping badly with the pressure already on it. Add Calderdale A&E patients and it could itself become a casualty.

Parking at Huddersfield will be even more horrendous than it is now, and from experience the directions for finding it by car are very poor.

These proposals haven't been thought through at all. Or rather, they haven't gone an inch beyond the crude assumption that money will, in some Paul Daniels way, be saved.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 8 June 2014

On Monday I popped along to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) drop in session at Mytholmroyd Community Centre to discuss our local health services for which they have responsibility.

To describe it as a farce would be too kind and it is by far the most shambolic event I have ever attended in 30 years of going to public meetings.

We as taxpayers are paying for what appears to be a 'consultation'. but one that is the most bogus I have ever seen and if it wasn't so serious it would be laughable.

The first problem with this meeting is seems to be Calderdale's best kept secret. No posters round town and when I checked on the CCG's own website it wasn't even on the front page as a reminder. Nothing on Hebweb as far as I could see. It's like they didn't want anyone to come along…surely not.

I've already registered my objection with Calderdale and Huddersfield HNS Foundation Trust (twice so far) against their wish to downgrade Halifax A and E which I believe will cost lives and I wanted to register my disapproval with the CCG who have ultimate responsibility for commissioning local services.

So I asked the smiley young woman who greeted us who was responsible for publicising the event. Blank stare. Ok, where do I register my objection to closing our A and E. Another more flustered blank stare.

This is page one stuff and eventually she shunted me off to one of the CCG's commissioners.

So I asked him which form I filled in to register my objection to Halifax A and E? We haven't got one he replied shuffling bits of paper. Bit naïve given the number of people who turned up at the CCG board meeting to tell the local GPs who sit on it loud and clearly we want to retain our A and E. Doh.

I pointed out to him that Sir Bruce Keogh's 'review' of A and E which is driving the Halifax A ad E downsizing is based on NHS England's disputed figure that 40% of A and E cases that could be treated elsewhere. I showed him the figures from College of Emergency Medicine that suggests the figure is more like 15% which seemed new to him. I also pointed out that when people have an emergency they just want to head to their local A and E that they know not Huddersfield or Leeds which are much further away.

Eventually he did write my objections on his pro forma form and in fairness did assure me that my comments would appear on the www.rightrighttimeplace,co.uk website. They better had because I will be keeping a eye on that.

Interestingly he didn't take any of my details so they could follow up my comments or I could track them.

I did point out that lack of publicity for the event would leave the CCG wide open to the accusations that this is a paper consultation and they had already made their minds up on A and E. A point he conceded and promised to take back to their highly paid but seemingly useless PR/marketing team. It may have worked as there was a piece in the HB Times this week and an ad for the next series of events….no excuse now folks so go and have your say.

I also pointed out having meetings between 2-7 and none at weekends meant it much more difficult for people who work – especially the thousands who commute every day – to come along. He did say the meetings seems to organised around what works best for staff rather than for the people who are paying for this farce.

MY final point was an old one. The Trust and CCG are deliberately linking more community based serves to A and E closures when they are two very different issues.

In principle I support community based services that put the patient at the centre of services. Who wouldn't?

But at the moment they simply don't exist in the way they outlined in the Strategic Outline Case which the commissioner conceded was the case.

So you can't then use that and Keogh's disputed figures to say we can downsize Halifax A and E based on sick people not going to A and E because they can be treated by non-existent community services. I made the point that was putting the cart before the horse.

The time to have a debate about A and E service is when you have put community services in place and to critically analyse the impact of those localised services on emergency services. Another point that was conceded.

Despite the chaotic and bogus nature of this meeting I have to say I did get a fair hearing from the person I spoke to and he take some notes which I hope will make it to the website.

But if the CCG want to have any credibility for this 'review' and for it to have any meaning they must go all out to make sure as many people as possible take part.

So far to their shame our highly paid GPs have failed to do so. That only reinforces the growing feeling that they have already made their minds up despite massive public opposition and will use this feeble 'consultation' as a fig leaf for slashing vital local services including our A and E.

Just so the Trust and the CCG aren't in any doubt the right care for an emergency is an A and E, the right time is as close as possible to my home and the right place is Halifax. That's crystal clear so stick that on your website if you dare


See also

HebWeb News: Calderdale A&E Crisis - Feb-May 2014

Halifax Courier: Calderdale Hospital A&E recommended for closure

HebWeb News - Labour to raise A&E closure in Council (Nov 2013)

HebWeb News - Calderdale Liberal Democrats will fight to protect local A&E provision (Nov 2013)