Hands Off HRI is delighted to receive the support of the Huddersfield Salvation Army in its next major protest on Saturday December 2nd.  Following discussions between officers of the Salvation Army, Adrian and Chris Lee, a joint working arrangement has now been reached to take forward the hospital campaign.  The Hands Around the Hospital protest will take place at 11.30am this Saturday and will assemble in the Salvation Army Car Park (next to the Reinwood playing fields off New Hey Rd) before moving off to the hospital where protestors are set to surround the hospital perimeter just after midday in a show of solidarity and defiance against any further moves to downgrade services or local surgical wards.  Campaigners will also be joined by local ward councillors, Gemma Wilson and Cahal Burke, as well as local MP’s, Thelma Walker and Barry Sheerman.  The protest will also welcome NHS campaign groups from Chorley, Grantham and Chatsworth which are also facing similar challenges to their local NHS Services.  Whilst the Trust plans to go ahead with their proposed ward closures, they have given written assurances to the Hands Off HRI solicitors that these closures are only temporary and consequently are expected to return to HRI following the Winter.

A full text of the statement from Irwin Mitchell is printed below:

“Following the decision to relocate acute cardiology and respiratory services to Calderdale, Irwin Mitchell has been in correspondence with the Hospital Trust.  Initially we sought to prevent the ward moves but the Trust indicated they were part of the ‘routine’ activity of the hospital.  Irwin Mitchell has therefore sought further evidence to justify the moves.  The Trust has indicated they are part of Winter contingency plans and as a result of staff shortages.  Irwin Mitchell has been given written assurances that there are no contractual or employment  changes and that the moves are temporary.  Given that the Judicial Review is now imminent, Irwin Mitchell will be including the ward plans as part of a potential ‘stealth’ closure plan by the Trust in its legal submission, unless services are returned to Huddersfield at the end of the Winter period.  If the Trust does not return these services to Huddersfield, then an injunction may be sought from the court to instruct the Trust to carry out its obligations to chronically ill patients in Huddersfield.  If, as some campaigners suspect, the Trust are being disingenuous, then the judicial review and potential injunction proceedings will rectify the current reconfiguration.”

A press spokesperson for Hands Off HRI commented: ” Whilst the Trust claim these moves are only temporary, we remain sceptical and espeically vigilant.  That’s why our protest has been called and why we will be going ahead.  We continue to be contacted by staff and patients who are very upset about the moves and some staff are even talking of leaving their positions.  This is a disgraceful state of affairs .  As well a spursuing legal action, of course we continue to wait for Mr Hunt to convene the Independent Reconfiguration Panel local councillors referred last Summer!  Everything is still to fight for but our protest on Saturday is to send out a clear message:    we are still fighting; this is definitely not a done deal and we can win!

For those who wish to join the protest, assemble at Salvation Army HD3 4BZ  on New Hey Rd at 11.30am or at HRI at midday.