Halifax says only clowns would cut our NHS

Jeremy Hunt, listen up!  Halifax loves the NHS – the people united will never be defeated! (Especially by a bunch of clowns)

A brilliant crowd, made up of hundreds of people from babies to grannies, ambled through Halifax today to deliver the message that only clowns would close Calderdale A&E and cut our NHS.

They were there to make their voices heard about the future of the whole Calderdale NHS and social care system, which is currently up in the air and undergoing a Strategic Review by 7 organisations. These are 2 NHS Foundation Trusts, a social enterprise company that runs community healthcare in Kirklees, two clinical commissioning groups and both Calderdale and Kirklees Councils.

The most shocking proposal is to close  Calderdale A&E and all other unplanned hospital services at Calderdale Royal Hospital, in order to move them all to Huddersfield, which would become the specialist acute and emergency hospital, with 100 fewer beds than are currently available for acute and emergency patients. This proposal is part of the Strategic Outline Case, which states how the Hospitals Trust, community health enterprise Locala and the mental health trust plan to carry out the Strategic Review proposals.

It is the preferred option out of 5 possible options in the Strategic Outline Case.

But Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group says that it has the responsibility for making the decision, and it’s legally required to take the public view into account before it decides on whether or not to go ahead with the “preferred option”. And it hasn’t done that so far.

“Calderdale A&E is a lifeline for me”

It was definitely not the preferred option for people on the streets today.

A member of the public who didn’t wish to give their name said,

“About three years ago my husband became unwell. He’d been depressed for a long time and I ended up taking him by taxi to A&E at 2am. He was ill for 5 months, and if he became unwell again, I could call the Crisis Team but if I can’t get hold of them, how do I get him to Huddersfield? Calderdale A&E is a lifeline for me.”

Andy Wright, on the amble with his small child, said,

“I’m here because it’s too far to get to Huddersfield for emergency care when it’s needed.”

Lizzie Olley (left) and her friends

Lizzie Olley, on the amble with her friends Connie Rout and Eleanor Shaw, said,

“To get to Huddersfield, you could be dead by the time you got there. And our NHS is  world-standard, why would anyone want to cut it?”

Connie Rout added,

“Closing Calderdale A&E is just going to reduce our standard of living. Particularly for people in Todmorden, well, they’d probably go to Burnley – but is there still an A&E at Burnley? ”

It seems from checking online that Burnley Hospital A&E was downgraded to an Urgent Care Centre a few years ago and now people in Burnley have to go to Blackburn for A&E.

Eleanor Shaw said,

“Britain sets the standard for healthcare in the world, with the NHS. Why are they taking it away?”

The family-friendly amble was organised so that ordinary people could speak out, but the organiser Gary Scott welcomed politicians as well, as long as they focussed on how to save Calderdale A&E and stop wider NHS cuts, and didn’t start party political point scoring.

LibDem Calderdale Councillor Pauline Nash was there with a contingent of Calderdale LIbDems. She said,

“ I don’t think the NHS is treating people right. At the briefing I attended they gave 5 options and said their preferred option is to close Calderdale A&E.

One reason this is bad is because the motorway was closed and gridlocked last week.

Also, they say there’ll be a Minor Injuries Unit, but it’s very difficult to define an MIU. What will it do?

They haven’t given any information about what they’re going to do with people in Todmorden, or how they’re going to increase ambulances to cope with increased demand if they close Calderdale A&E.

They’re asking GPs to work longer hours and stay open 7 days a week, but GPs’ funding’s been cut.

“I’m here at this demo because it’s not about politicians, it’s about families and communities.”

Josh Fenton Glynn, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Calder Valley, said,

“It’s important that someone stands up for people in Todmorden and Hebden Bridge who don’t want to be driving extra miles in an emergency.

And it’s important for people all across Calderdale.

The A&E service is stretched and it’s not the time to be reducing capacity.

They’re trying to blind us with science and clinical arguments, and they just don’t stack up. This is a cut dressed up as a reform.”

Halifax MP Linda Riordan was there and spoke out about the proposals and the importance of keeping Calderdale A&E open.

Philip Allott, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halifax who will be standing against Linda Riordan at the 2015 General Election, said,

“An A&E facility in Halifax is a vital part of the local health service. The Trust has misjudged this issue and need to reconsider.”

Ethical rapper Joe - Viva La Lovelution (left), Gary Scott (right)

At the end of the amble, Gary Scott made a brief speech:

 “A big round applause, to yourselves and each other, for getting out and doing something you feel strongly about today.

Hopefully, politicians get worried when average, normal people start campaigning.

Of course, this is about much more than A+E – huge “changes” are proposed.

We’ve tried to keep this as non- party political as possible. I haven’t voted since 1997.
But, of course, it is about politics. I urge you to be as informed as you can be, don’t take the party lines as read – find out yourself. And use your vote wisely, as some parties
care about the NHS more than others.

And to those who say “this isn’t about cuts” – I say, the preferred proposal is to cut overall beds over the two sites, cut our A&E provision, and cut £50M from the budget.

Thank you so much for coming, this has inspired and re-politicised me so much, and I hope to help in whatever way I can.”

Sambalifax helped everything to go with a swing.

Gary suggested people could read all the reports for themselves and make up their own minds about what they think.

If you want to make a start, most of the key Reports are here in this storify thingy.

Or you can find the Strategic Outline Case (SOC) and the NCAT Report on the rightcaretimeplace.co.uk/about-us webpage

The Strategic Review, the NCAT Report and the Strategic Outlne Case (SOC) are particularly important.

Calderdale Council’s Better Care Fund Submission is also important and I’ll add it soon to this Storify thingy.

Updated 18 March 2014 to include comment from Philip Allot, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halifax

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