I have read both the CCG and the council’s proposals for the future of HRI with interest today.
I will only support a proposal which guarantees improved accessibility for Colne Valley constituents and will continue fighting on the national stage for a well-funded, publicly owned NHS which is fit for the 21st century.
The campaigners from Hands Off HRI and Let’s Save Huddersfield A&E have done a phenomenal job of keeping up the pressure locally and nationally, and I am very pleased that alternatives to the closure of HRI and loss of services throughout Kirklees are being considered. However, I still have concerns about each of the proposals which are being put forward.
The CCG’s revised plan goes some way to meeting the demands of campaigners and local residents and I am glad that no further PFI is being considered. However, Colne Valley residents deserve access to a comprehensive A&E service that includes emergency ambulance admissions. Travel time and the problems caused by hospitalisation in another town are major issues. The national picture for our NHS remains bleak, with the worst cuts to services in the history of the health service, and privatisation at the hands of the Tories.
The council’s plan is a long-term view, with a timeline of at least a decade. I am glad that the council is planning this far ahead, and that it is willing to look at radical solutions to overhaul local health services.
However, I am yet to see any detail of this plan and I have reservations about its achievability. There is no information about the proposed location of the new hospital and no guarantees on where the money is coming from to build it. It is unclear what would happen in the meantime to the services which are under threat in Huddersfield and which have already been lost in Dewsbury. My concern is that the council has already faced unprecedented funding cuts at the hands of this government, with even the most basic of services under threat. A proposal for a £300m investment therefore requires a lot more detail, and the council must develop this through a full consultation with local residents and stakeholders.