“Our big trip to Westminster”
On Wednesday 28th February our steering committee, joined by a coach load of Hands Off HRI supporters, set off to London, braving the Beast from the East, with a list of demands for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party.
Questions & Requests from Hands Off HRI for Jeremy Corbyn
Firstly can we thank you for agreeing to meet with us today.
You are aware of our vibrant and growing campaign to save NHS services in Huddersfield. We met you during the General Election in Beaumont Park and also in Batley during the by election. We number some 80 activists and are organised very effectively into local campaign groups, specialist committees eg media, finance and events plus a Steering Committee. We were the driving force behind last year’s highly successful National NHS Demo and play an active part in Health Campaigns Together which we know is now meeting with Jonathan Ashworth on a regular basis.
In 2016 the local CCG announced a proposal to shut our A & E and to downgrade the hospital. They have now gone further in proposing to bulldoze the entire site and leave us with only a 64 bed facility for a population of 400,000.
In their plans they are reliant on a huge increase in community based services. However, there are significant problems with this as there are high numbers of vacancies in all sections of primary care with GP and District Nurse vacancies proving impossible to fill and an ageing demographic in all Primary Care Staff. Despite numerous attempts to ascertain what the CCG and Trust plans are should there be no increase in the community based workforce we have received no response that would allay our fears for patient safety and staff welfare.
We cannot stress enough how serious this whole matter is for our local community. We have now been campaigning for three years and have a number of routes we are taking to challenge this:
1. A legal challenge through a judicial review for which we have had to raise over £60,000 and are now legally aided.
2. Looking towards the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) to review and overturn the decision and we are presenting petitions today to the Dept Of Health.
And we are here because we want a commitment from a future Labour Government that our hospital will get a reprieve. We are delighted that Thelma has helped to facilitate today’s meeting and has been a steadfast supporter of our group.
This reconfiguration will see the loss of upto 500 jobs. Alongside this is the development of a wholly owned subsidiary company at our hospital. This would see over 500 staff transferred into a new company, rightly described in the media as “privatisation by the back door”. The staff will no longer be NHS employed thus losing the benefit of NHS Terms, Conditions and Pensions. The only benefit to the Trust would be to reduce their VAT bills. In the main the creation of this company will impact on the low paid, part time workers a lot of whom are women. The roles they wish to transfer would be domestics, housekeepers, porters, caterers to name a few.
19 Trusts nationally have already created and transferred non clinical staff into these private companies. 16 Trusts are already in the process of developing the companies, 5 of which are in West Yorkshire.
We would like your assurance that you would halt the creation of these private companies and that from now you will apply pressure on the Treasury to resolve the taxation issue for our Trust and others that are in this position.
The NHS is now in dire straits and facing potential collapse. We are also asking that you commit Labour to:
1. Bring an immediate halt to the closure of HRI and retain A&E services at both Calderdale and Huddersfield.
2. End the scandal of PFI which is crippling our Trust and to bring ALL services back in house with no compensation for the privateers, including an end to outsourcing.
3. An immediate injection of funding for the NHS up to the European average.
4. Full support for the NHS Reinstatement Bill which will in effect halt the backdoor privatisation of our NHS (in Huddersfield we are faced with Locala and now threatened with outsourcing).
5. End the Pay Cap for all our NHS staff and for a decent living wage.
If these proposals go through, lives will be lost and our community will spiral downwards. The whole borough of Kirklees will not have an Accident & Emergency Department.
We would like you to ask Mr Hunt and Mrs May directly perhaps at PMQ’s if they would be prepared to give our hospital a reprieve, we would like you to emphasise that the Government should step in and save our Hospital.
We ask that you give us your pledge of support in perhaps the form of a written statement that can be shared with our community.
Mr Corbyn has now vowed to throw his political weight behind HoHRI’s efforts to block the downgrading of Huddersfield’s hospital.
Following the meeting in parliament he and Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said they “unequivocally” backed the campaign to save A&E and a host of other hospital services. Mr Corbyn also agreed to back the NHS Reinstatement Bill
Hands Off HRI would like to extend a big thank you to all our MPS for organising this meeting with Jeremy Corbyn and the debate afterwards with Jon Ashworth.
We said we would explore all avenues in the fight to save our local hospital and wider NHS provision. This is not a done deal!
We would like to say a big thank you to Elspeth Mary Moore for providing wonderful photographs of our Big Day Out!