Hundreds of protestors packed a leisure centre in Halifax today to demand the NHS re-thinks plans to close Calderdale Royal Hospital's A&E department. Campaigners say the move could cost lives. Helen Steel reports.
Hundreds of protestors have packed into Nothbridge Leisure Centre in Halifax to show their opposition to plans to close Calderdale's A & E. Halifax MP Linda Riordan said she wants to send a clear message to health bosses of the strength of feeling against the proposed changes.
"Plans to close Calderdale's A&E unit have not been finalised - and will be discussed with members of the public, according to the commissioning group tasked with finding £50m in savings.
A protest against the possible closure will take place this afternoon at the North Bridge Leisure Centre.
We welcome the views of local people on the possible way forward for health and social care across Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield. "We are keen to hear people's views about the future wherever and however they are expressed. This will help to identify the real options for change which will be subject to a full public consultation later this year.
"We have been working with and listening to patients and local people for almost two years which has shaped the overall direction of travel towards more and better services being provided in or close to people's homes.
"Over the coming few months we will be rolling out our own engagement programme which will include dozens of meetings with a range of interested groups, roadshows and drop-in sessions with health and social care professionals."
A huge crowd is expected to turn out today for a protest against plans to close Calderdale's A&E.
Halifax MP Linda Riordan has called for residents to “come out in force” at what she calls the "biggest issue facing Halifax since the banking crisis threatened to rip the heart out of the town".
The plans have been put forward by an NHS commissioning group - the West and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Commissioning Support Unit.
The proposals include options to downgrade either Halifax or Huddersfield’s casualty service - but downgrading Calderdale Royal Hospital's service is the preferred option.
Campaigners took their fight to save accident and emergency services in Halifax to the streets today. They walked 20 miles from Todmorden to Huddersfield.
That's the distance they say some in the Calder Valley would have to travel to receive emergency care if plans to downgrade A and E in Halifax go ahead. Chris Kiddey reports.
Protestors who fear for the future of accident and emergency services in the Calder Valley are walking 20 miles from Todmorden to Huddersfield today.
They say changes could lead to the closure of the A & E department at Calderdale Royal Hospital - and services transferred to Huddersfield instead . The protest walk us being led by Josh Fenton-Glynn, Labour's parliamentary candidate for the Calder Valley.
The Environment Agency has been investigating after residents in the Calder Valley noticed the water in the River Calder had turned orange. Some residents had voiced concerns about chemicals, but the Environment Agency believes this to be a natural occurrence instead.
A spokesperson said:
“We have identified the discoloured water as coming from an old coal mine in the hills above Portsmouth, in Calderdale.
“Drainage shafts associated with old mines are known to occasionally release water that is high in iron content, leaving the water a bright orange, or rusty colour. This happens infrequently and is not considered to pose a significant environmental problem, apart from the odd, bright colour.
"The river usually clears itself of the discolouration within a couple of days."
If you received plenty of Christmas cards this year then spare a thought for eighty two year old Enid Sugden from the village of Sowerby in the Calder Valley. She's had no post at home for more than a year after a dispute over a slippery footpath with Royal Mail. Chris Kiddey reports.
The Environment Agency is drawing up plans for flood reduction measures in the Upper Calder Valley. £3 million is to be spent in the autumn on works which will last two years to avoid scenes like in Walsden last month.
“The Environment Agency and Calderdale Council are working together with local flood groups and other organisations to develop affordable and technically feasible solutions to deal with flooding from all sources. We are drawing up detailed designs for a variety of flood alleviation measures across the Calder Valley. Local knowledge and the feedback we have received from the Calder Valley communities worst affected by flooding means we can target specific locations where the money spent will have the greatest benefit.”
See the full report (above) from our correspondent, Chris Kiddey, sent from the Calder Valley.