Thursday, 4 February 2016

Huddersfield Accident and Emergency - Our 'powerless' Government

 It has been interesting to read the Conservative Government response to the online Parliament petition to save A&E services in Huddersfield. It says that it "is a matter for local determination" and "it is right that these decisions are led by local clinicians, who best understand the healthcare needs of their local populations and in consultation with local people".

The response fails to recognise that  Government  sets the rules and is the ultimate provider of NHS funding. Government makes the funding environment within which local decisions are made. Most people accept that the PFI deal, that was agreed years ago, was a bad one. This financial option is one that both Labour and Conservative Governments have promoted as a dubious, and often expensive, way of funding public sector projects. Successive Governments have set the rules and now this one wants to wash its hands of the issue and say it is a local decision. What I do find very strange  is that Prime Minister David Cameron felt able to go to the Calderdale Royal Hospital in April last year, before the election and guarantee that A & E services would remain there. I am pleased that A&E will remain in Halifax but what makes that issue one that the Prime Minister felt he could comment on and yet the decison at Huddersfield A&E is a "matter for local determination"?

There has been plenty of legitimate talk about PFI in the context of the proposals for the future of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary but very little on the £30 Billion NHS funding gap that was such a feature of the General Election. There was no satisfactory answer to this gap by either potential Government Party, Labour or Tory.  I wonder why local MPs are not referring to it now as an important element in this sorry saga.

The best possible tactic now (as well as putting pressure on local NHS decision makers) is for those of us who want to maintain Accident and Emergency and other Acute Service at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to keep knocking at the Government door and to make them take responsibility. They are the majority Government after all, even if only 37% of Electors voted for them.

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