NHS bosses will press ahead with proposals to close an A&E department and centralise emergency care in Halifax despite an angry public backlash.
A public consultation will be launched on plans to make Calderdale Royal Hospital a centralised emergency care centre for Halifax and Huddersfield.
Huddersfield’s A&E would be downgraded to an urgent care centre treating less serious ailments and the town’s main hospital site at Lindley could be knocked down if the plans go ahead.
There were noisy protests outside the Briar Court Hotel in Huddersfield this afternoon as bosses from Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) met to discuss the shake-up of hospital services.
People gathered outside said they were worried about the distances ambulances would have to travel between the hospitals to get people to A&E.
Protester Keiron Wadsworth, 27, said: “It’s disgusting. I understand there are budgets but there must be another way round this.
“Everybody knows how mad the traffic is. God bless the paramedics because this is just going to make their job harder.”
More than 80 people crammed into a room at the hotel for the meeting but some were turned away at the doors when there was no more room.
Speakers from the two CCGs were frequently interrupted by shouts from members of the public and struggled to make themselves heard at times as they set out the case for reorganising hospital services.
The meeting was told NHS services in Calderdale and Huddersfield faced a £281m funding gap between now and 2021-22.
The shake-up plan would see new investment in both hospitals, paid for with £490m of government funding.
CCG bosses said centralising A&E services would make emergency care safer at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
But the room erupted in laughter when the meeting was told having the main A&E in either Halifax or Huddersfield would not make a difference to people’s access to care.
There were also angry outbursts when members of the public were not given 10 minutes to ask questions.
That part of the agenda was scrapped after more than 300 questions were submitted ahead of the meeting. The CCGs plan to publish answers on their websites.
The CCGs voted to start a 12-week public consultation, which will start early next month.
They said information events and roadshows would be held as part of the consultation.
Dr Steve Ollerton, chairman of Greater Huddersfield CCG, said after the meeting: “People are very passionate about their local health services and that passion was evident at today’s meeting.
“We share that passion and that is why we are very eager to get out and talk to the public about our proposals.
“We know there is significant interest in the proposed changes and we are keen to listen to views.
“There are also some misconceptions out there and we will look forward to explaining our reasoning and processes to the public.”