Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals will still be in debt after A&E closure

Calderdale Royal Hospital Accident and Emergency.
Calderdale Royal Hospital Accident and Emergency.

Financial reasons were behind a U-turn by health bosses over the location of a centralised A&E for Calderdale and Huddersfield.

But NHS services in the two towns will still be millions of pounds in deficit following the planned closure of Huddersfield’s emergency department.

A newly-released report shows that Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust is forecasting a £9.5m annual deficit in the years following the planned shake-up.

Huddersfield Royal Infirmary was the first the preferred site for an expanded A&E to serve both districts.

But the location was switched to Calderdale Royal Hospital when a Five-Year Strategic Plan was drawn up for the future of services.

The revised plan would see unplanned hospital procedures carried out at a new hospital in Huddersfield after the town’s existing infirmary is knocked down.

The five-year report said: “This change is primarily for financial reasons as there is very little differential between

Huddersfield or Calderdale as the unplanned care site on other grounds.”

The high cost of outstanding maintenance work at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary was among the financial reasons.

The trust is also unable to get out of a costly 60-year contract for Calderdale hospital, which was built under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

The hospital is leased back from the private sector under the PFI deal, which contains a £200m “break clause” penalty.

The number of people working at the two hospitals would fall by more than 950 if the planned shake-up goes ahead.

Huddersfield’s 400-bed infirmary would be replaced with a 120-bed hospital at the town’s Acre Mills site.

Calderdale Royal Hospital would be expanded from 400 to be between 615 and 700.

The proposals are designed to tackle a £280m funding gap as government funding falls behind the current cost of NHS services.

But the hospital trust would still have a £9.5m “recurrent deficit”, said the report, which was drawn up by accountancy firm Ernst and Young.

A 14-week consultation on the proposals will be launched on Tuesday by Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups, which control the local NHS budget.