Letter: Location of stroke services really matters

Calderdale Royal Hospital
Calderdale Royal Hospital

Having spent seven weeks recently visiting a friend who was recovering from a stroke, I was alarmed to hear that stroke services at Calderdale Royal, which was rated the best in West Yorkshire in 2011, now face closure.

Halifax is about 13 miles from Todmorden, whereas Bradford -the next nearest stroke unit - is some 20 miles away. This matters because immediate treatment is essential -according to the Stroke Association a significant number of patients don’t get to hospital quickly enough- and because its vitally important that visitors are able get to the hospital regularly, possibly over quite a long period of time.

Last year there were protests about the threatened closure of the A and E department at Halifax. Your article (23rd February) makes it clear that the stroke unit now faces closure because of a ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’, in other words for financial reasons. Whilst I realise we can’t expect unlimited public investment in health and social care, or local authority services, the gulf in wealth between the extremely rich and the rest of us has been growing steadily, unaffected by the recession. The top 10 per cent now have private wealth of around £5 trillion -that’s five thousand billion (twelve noughts)- and would not suffer any hardship if a few percent of this were claimed by means of a wealth tax. Even 1% would net the public purse around £50 billion. Since wealth inequality is linked to poor health outcomes in all sorts of ways, a significant redistribution of wealth and income can would deliver a genuinely ‘sustainable and transformative’ win-win for our underfunded N.H.S. and social care services.

Brian Taylor, Todmorden