The potential closure of Calderdale Royal Hospital’s A&E department is an issue of grave concern to residents of Calderdale. Those in need of emergency healthcare provision across Halifax and Calderdale could face a lengthy trip to Huddersfield or even further afield. Concerns have been raised that the longer ambulance journeys could put lives at risk.
It is for this reason that the potential closure has been opposed from such a wide range of groups across Calderdale. Protest marches and online campaigns have shown the strength of feeling about this proposal.
Labour has been fighting for our A&E from the moment the possibility of closure was announced and it was reassuring for residents to hear during the election campaign that Prime Minister David Cameron also seemed to support keeping our A&E open.
Cameron’s campaign stop in Halifax saw him make a clear commitment to the A&E with the Halifax Courier running a headline saying “David Cameron: Calderdale Royal Hospital A&E ‘will not face closure’.
Yet after the election campaign had finished it seemsed that Cameron had dropped his commitment to fight for our A&E. His government claimed that it was a decision for the doctors of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and not one for elected politicians.
Holly discovered this change of approach on 18th June 2015 when the following exchange took place in Parliament:
Holly Lynch (Halifax) (Lab): During the general election campaign, the Prime Minister told my constituents that the A&E in Halifax would not close. Last week, the clinical commissioning group said that the Prime Minister’s pledge should be taken up with the Prime Minister and not with it. May I ask for a statement from the Prime Minister, or, alternatively, a meeting with him to clarify just how and when he intends to keep his promise to my constituents to keep the A&E open?
Chris Grayling (Leader of the House of Commons) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Lady on her election. The whole point of the reforms that we put in place in the previous Parliament is that, ultimately, the decisions rest with GPs.
Holly has pledged to ask Cameron at every opportunity why he pledged to save the A&E if he doesn't see this as a decision for his government to make and just how and when he will be making good on his promise to keep open the A&E. She got this opportunity in October 2015 with a question at Prime Minister's Questions. Ms Lynch asked:
“During the general election campaign, the Prime Minister came to my constituency and promised to keep Calderdale Royal’s A and E department open and sort out the financial mess that our hospital was in. Since then, the Government have backtracked on both promises, saying that these are matters for the local NHS trust and for the clinical commissioning group. Will the Prime Minister show that he is a man of his word by meeting me to discuss ways in which he can honour his election promises?"
Mr Cameron responded by stating that the government were investing billions of pounds extra in the NHS, but he said decisions on the hospital should be made locally.
This year it was revealed that the preferred choice of local health bosses was to close Huddersfield Hospital with the choice being presented as one of Halifax competing with Huddersfield to keep its A&E. This move has been highly criticised by Holly who said in her blog:
“This shouldn’t be an issue of Calderdale hospital versus Huddersfield hospital - ideally no A&E should have to close.
“Everyone needs to work together to urge the Prime Minister to deliver the financial support our hospitals need to provide the health service people in Calderdale and Kirklees deserve.”