Huddersfield’s A&E department is to close, with its 163,000 residents expected to travel to Halifax following an accident or emergency. Naturally, this has resulted in some outrage from the residents of one of the UK’s biggest towns. Mother-of-three Andria Thompson is one of them.
Health chiefs believe that having Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH) in Halifax focus on emergency care and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) focusing on inpatient care will be cheaper and provide a better service for patients. The proposal, that HRI will have an urgent care centre instead, is now to go to 12-week public consultation.
I live in the small town of Meltham on the outskirts of Huddersfield. My three (now grown kids) and I are inherently clumsy so we’ve been to A&E more than is usual. However, 25 years ago, I would have lost my son Michael completely, had we had to travel all the way to Halifax (a 50-minute journey for us at the time, much more for those on the outskirts of Kirklees).
Back then we lived in the Huddersfield neighbourhood of Fartown. Michael had been a sickly baby from day one and we were frequently in and out of the GP’s surgery. I knew all along something was wrong with him but I was unsure as to what.
On this particular occasion, at just 11 months old, he was more ill than usual so I got an on-call doctor out. I was at my dad’s house that day and the doctor arrived and diagnosed flu.
Relying on my maternal instinct, I told him he was wrong. My mother was cross with me for challenging the doctor’s diagnosis but I was adamant and I asked my dad to run me home. He did and I called another locum GP on the way.
The doctor arrived pretty much the same time we did. He picked him up, did a very quick look over and said, “I need to get him to A&E right now. He’s got maybe 15 minutes. I’ll see you up there.”
He took Michael and left. I followed with my dad, feeling bewildered and terrified. Just 10 minutes later we arrived at our A&E where Michael was quickly attended to. He was diagnosed as asthmatic and the doctors explained that his primary chest muscles had failed and that his secondary (I suppose the safety net) set were almost done too. He just wouldn’t have made it to Halifax.
I have joined more than 38,000 people in a Facebook group set up to save our much-needed A&E department. Huddersfield is one of the largest towns in northern England. The road between Huddersfield and Halifax is one of the busiest stretches of highway in Calderdale and it’s frequently very congested with lots of standing traffic, with the M62 motorway acting as a barrier between the two towns.
This decision will result in delays and potentially deaths and will surely cause a strain on services within Halifax’s existing A&E. We have so far received more than 26,000 signatures on our Government petition and we have support coming from further afield. I am so proud of my town for coming together to support this.
I was lucky that we got to A&E in time and I am not willing to stand back and let the worst happen to someone else.1938 Views