A LABOUR government would suspend the downgrading of services at Dewsbury Hospital, it was claimed this week.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth visited Batley on Wednesday for a campaign event and spoke alongside Labour MPs Paula Sherriff, Tracy Brabin and Barry Sheerman.
They unveiled a plan to halt a £22bn programme of NHS cuts, which Labour says threatens to devastate vital services at Dewsbury Hospital, including its under-pressure A&E department.
Under the current Government’s plans, Dewsbury Hospital will still have a 24/7 emergency department, with doctors on duty during the day and on-call doctors available at night.
But Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield will become the main centre for people with serious and life-threatening conditions.
Other services across the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs Dewsbury Hospital – have also been consolidated into one site.
Speaking at St Mary’s Social Club on Melton Street, Mr Ashworth said: “I am announcing today that a Labour government, on its first day, will stop this hospital closure programme. In local areas across the country there are plans to re-design the services.”
Labour claim that up to 19 hospitals and 24 A&E units could be axed across the country under present restructuring plans.
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff said: “The fact that Jon Ashworth has come here to make this fantastic announcement shows that this fight is not over. This is what Labour is all about, fighting to save our NHS.”
Mr Ashworth added: “Seven years into a Labour government, the NHS saw the biggest hospital building programme in our history, we saw waiting times falling and were well on our way to the highest satisfaction ratings ever in the history of the NHS.
“What is happening seven years into this Tory government? People on waiting lists, pensioners waiting for hip replacements, knee replacements and cataract removal, they’re going to have to wait longer than 18 weeks.
“If things are going to change, then the public needs to be involved. These plans to downgrade have not had public involvement. We’re going to put patients at the heart of the NHS, we’re going to invest in quality and safety.”
Mr Ashworth also stated that along with putting “patients at the heart of the NHS”, Labour will invest in staffing.
He said: “We are going to scrap the pay gap and we are going to give everyone who works in the NHS a fair pay rise.
“We’re going to bring back the training bursary to get people to train to work in our NHS.”
Tracy Brabin, seeking re-election as MP for Batley & Spen, said: “Less than one in 100 people here contributed to the so-called consultation the Trust have undertaken, so I welcome the move to ensure that in the future review of local services, residents’ and patients’ voices must be heard.”
In response, the Conservatives dismissed the idea, and Tory candidate for Dewsbury & Mirfield Beth Prescott said: “I am strongly against the current proposals for the future of Dewsbury Hospital and HRI, and if elected, I would fight against them, working closely with the Government and the CCG to find a better solution that suits the needs of people living here.
“However, Labour’s nonsensical proposal does nothing but mislead the public. There are no guarantees they would stop any proposals – their plans would see another review, which may come up with similar plans a few years and hundreds of thousands of pounds down the line.
“As somebody who uses Dewsbury Hospital and has family who work in the NHS locally, only electing me as a Conservative MP for Dewsbury will ensure a fight against the proposals.”
Dewsbury’s Lib Dem hopeful Ednan Hussain also criticised Labour’s plan and said: “The Liberal Democrats have always been clear that hospitals need real investment and in 2015, we were clear that £8bn was required to fund our hospitals. Sadly, the Conservative Brexit Government has ignored the NHS and investment has not taken place.
"Any cutbacks in our hospitals will be vigorously opposed by myself and my Liberal Democrat colleagues. Whilst Labour is holding rallies, we will be providing the opposition to the Conservatives in Parliament and will be holding ministers to account.”