KIRKLEES Council is proposing the building of a brand new £300 million hospital sited between Dewsbury and Huddersfield in the face of downgrading plans aimed at the district's two existing facilities.
The proposal, backed by all parties on the Council, is in response to plans from local NHS Clinical Commission Groups (CCGs) in Calderdale and Huddersfield, who are proposing a significant change to the services provides by Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT).
The Council’s proposals also take into account recent and potential future changes in the provision of service at Dewsbury District Hospital, run by the Mid Yorks NHS Trust.
However the plans have already met some resistance, with Dewsbury and Mirfield MP and Labour shadow health minister Paula Sherriff unconvinced.
Announcing the plans on Thursday night, Coun Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “It is vital that the growing population in Kirklees has its health and social care needs properly reflected and planned for. As a Council, we are unanimous in believing this cannot be left to chance. The original proposals were all about structure, rather than plans designed for people. We can’t afford to allow the haemorrhaging of services from both Dewsbury and Huddersfield hospitals as is happening now.
“We have written to the Secretary of State and to NHS England to say that we believe a new hospital in Kirklees will reflect a plan for the district and ensure the best healthcare in the future, whilst retaining services that need to be delivered locally in Huddersfield and Dewsbury”
“I fully acknowledge that there’s much work to do in developing the details in consultation with all stakeholders after we had the assurances and commitment to fully fund local, accessible services from the Secretary of State for Health.”
Party leaders are proposing:
- Significant investment in prevention, staying well and helping people to manage their own health conditions effectively. This includes investment in primary and community health care services, social care and voluntary sector capacity, all of which have seen significantly less focus and investment than the acute hospital sector.
- The development of a new hospital located in a suitable location between Huddersfield and Dewsbury to include full A+E services with the provision of critical care beds that will otherwise be lost entirely from Kirklees.
- Embracing digital technology and other opportunities to genuinely provide care closer to or in people’s own homes.
- A willingness from the Council to look at how it might be able to provide access to capital funding that supports this development.
- That the exact configuration of services should be determined through a comprehensive review of all health and social care services and facilities across Kirklees including community provision
- That there is continued investment in existing health facilities, given the long term nature of the proposal.
As part of the proposal, the current ‘A&E’ and emergency centres at Pinderfields and Calderdale would remain, with urgent treatment centres in Huddersfield and Dewsbury
The ‘A&E’ department within the new hospital would be staffed by senior clinicians 7 days a week and be able to assess and treat all patients other than those needing more specialist or regional services (unlike the original proposals from the NHS).
The new hospital would retain in Kirklees services that have recently been lost from North Kirklees and will, under current proposals, be lost from Huddersfield. This removes the duplication and inefficiency that occurs from 2 separate trusts working independently from each other across multiple sites. Locally accessible services will be retained in Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Conservative group leader, Coun David Hall said:
“This is a long-term plan for a long-term solution and so we are under no illusions that this will take up to 10 years to implement. Consequently, given the age of the current estate, intermediate investment will be needed in current sites but must be done in a way that supports the longer-term plan. However, we feel that investment should be planned on the best possible long term solution.”
Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr John Lawson said there was a range of reasons why the current proposals to government are not appropriate.
He added: “If the CCG’s proposals go ahead we will be left with a plan based around a single organisation (CHFT) and not a health and care system. It would not fit with regional health policy to plan across a place, and does not encourage opportunities for integration between different organisations. However, we all appreciate the limited options they have given the crippling PFI position at Calderdale.”
However Paula Sherriff needed convincing. She said: “‘I have significant concerns about these proposals as they are based on the acceptance of the decline and closure of HRI & DDH.
“Over the last eight years Kirklees’ NHS services have been subject to savage Tory government cuts, leading to staffing crises and plans to downgrade and close our hospital services.
‘Whilst I would obviously welcome any improvement of services for local people, I fail to see where the investment for this proposal would come from.
“The pressure on Kirklees NHS services stems from a national failure to invest in staffing and to invest in the long-term sustainability of our hospitals.
“Alongside my fellow Labour MPs and councillors, I have fought and will continue to fight to retain and improve services at HRI and DDH – I do not believe this is lost. The strength of support and success of campaigners in securing a judicial review over HRI shows that people want to retain and strengthen local hospitals provision, not accept its demise."