Dr Hester Dunlop has decided to break her silence and speak out against the proposed changes to local NHS services , after being a family doctor in Huddersfield for over 30 years. She has weathered many organisational changes during that time but nothing comes close to the crisis now engulfing the health service . She is also heartened by the recommendation of Jeremy Hunt who has ordered a fundamental review of the plan to downgrade HRI. The Hands Off HRI campaign group is now gathering evidence to present to this review and Hester wants to hear directly from health workers about their experiences of the proposed move.

“The Clinical Commissiong Group (CCG) needs to hear directly from health workers. I know how difficult it can be for people to speak out but I am willing to be their mouthpiece. We must present clear evidence that this town will not be able to meet peoples’ health needs if HRI is torn down, which is the CCG’s ultimate plan.”

She feels primary care is the bedrock of the NHS and the only area which doesn’t shut the door. But its’ funding has been cut at the very time it needs a boost to cope with the impact of poverty, ill health and changing demography . The current local reconfiguration plans would see more care shift into the community as HRI is pulled down and replaced with a smaller planned care site .

“I have no argument with the aspiration to move care closer to home” she says “but it’s simply unrealistic to expect primary care to pick up the slack without proper investment. We are often overlooked when there are cuts as we don’t have a single building to defend but we are the bedrock of the whole system . Getting a GP appointment when you need it can feel like winning the lottery and patients and staff are frustrated and stressed . I know many people in Golcar and Salendine Nook are very worried about the uncertainties they face and I share that concern”

She is happy that the GP’s professional body, the LMC, is opposing the plan to downgrade HRI and joined them in 2016 in order to understand and work behind the scenes on the wider issues.

” There are lots of huge changes taking place nationally and regionally that are going to radically affect the way we access and deliver health care. I feel very angry that the decisions are being made that may threaten the founding principles of the NHS with hardly any public knowledge or scrutiny. I’m so glad my MP, Thelma Walker, and my local councillors are supporting the local campaign

To help health workers come forward she is helping to set up a Health Workers Together Group as part of the Hands Off HRI campaign and anyone can directly contact Hester in confidence. She hopes to get everyone together to develop a local voice for health workers. To contact Hester, you can ring her on 07899903866, or email info.handsoffhri@gmail.com