Public Statement on behalf of Hands Off HRI – The Campaign to save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary
Last Friday’s announcement by Mr Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health in response to the referral made by Joint Health Scrutiny Committee last July 2016 to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), has both delighted and surprised local campaigners fighting to save all hospital service in the Huddersfield area. Since the inception of the IRP , there has never been such a strong and unambiguous statement. Mr Hunt has said of the NHS bosses proposals that

• there are a wide variety of failings in their business case

• the proposals lack consistency

• there is widespread scepticism about them being deliverable

• there is no evidence of adequate out of hospital care

• the loss of beds is unjustifiable

• there is no evidence of capital finance being available for their project

Mr Hunt correctly concludes that the proposal to downgrade HRI is ‘not in the best interests of the people’ of Kirklees and Calderdale and he has ordered the CCG to work with Joint Health Scrutiny alongside NHS Improvement and NHS England to develop new proposals which take into account these misgivings.

This outcome has completely vindicated the long and relentless campaign waged by Hands Off HRI over the last two and a half years, and supports the findings of the courts that will result in the full Judicial Review in June. There is little doubt in campaigners minds that the decision at Leeds Crown Court two months ago to order a full Judicial Review into this proposal has concentrated minds in Whitehall. The Judge has identified five counts of public law which must be tested in a full hearing which is set to go ahead on 12 – 14 June. With this decision by Mr Hunt now also hanging over the local CCG, it is very difficult to see how they can justify continuing with their disgraceful scheme.

Hands Off HRI had commissioned three professional clinical, financial and building experts to scrutinise the proposal in preparation for the court hearing. Their findings completely bear out Mr Hunt’s observations, namely that the financial case for closure is not justified; there is no clinical evidence of improved outcome for patients and that HRI has another 100 years life left in it. Faced with this huge weight of evidence, perhaps Mr Hunt has done the CCG a favour by vetoing their plans.

Where does this leave the future of HRI?? Whilst delighted with this decision, Hands Off HRI recognises that this is not the end of the proposal to shut our hospital. It is the same CCG which is being asked to think again. Whilst we welcome the departure of Mr Alan Brook as Governing Body Chair of NHS Calderdale CCG, Hands off HRI is demanding that the whole board of both Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield CCG’s resign and that new appointees take over to look at the genuine health needs of the population. It has been clear from the outset that this proposal was driven by the disgraceful PFI scheme hanging over Calderdale Hospital in Halifax and that the CCG is attempting to balance the books by closing HRI.

Mr Hunt has ordered the relevant authorities to develop a new plan over the next 3 months. Hands Off HRI will be engaging with this process by submitting further evidence to the IRP and local politicians. We will also be consulting with our legal team about the Judicial Review which is still scheduled to go ahead. However momentum is now with our campaign and the whole town is lifted by the decision. There is renewed confidence that we can see this through to the end. The Crowd Justice appeal to raise funds for the Judicial Review has already exceeded our target and fund continue to pour in as no stone is left unturned to ensure our war chest is full. The fight will go on and we will be rallying to our campaign themes:

If you stand up and fight , you can win
It’s only a done deal, if you do nowt.

For more information, contact Mike Forster 07887668740; Steve Slator 07854358479; Cristina George 07747446005
To contact the campaign: find us on the following: Facebook: HandsoffHRI Twitter: @HoHRIltd