I just wanted to write a quick piece about the proposal to close Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s A&E Department. In a word: don’t.
I don’t often get on my high horse about things – let’s be honest, I barely blog at all – but this feels like a political horse worth mounting.
I don’t want to get into the politics of this decision, namely because I’m not really clever enough to comprehend them. But also because here isn’t the place to remind people that the poor management of the NHS, by the government, means that a national service we should be both proud of and thankful for, has been decimated and left to fester.
Nevertheless, the fact this decision is down to the financial mishandling of other hospitals, is frankly ridiculous.
So no, I’m not getting into the politics of it. I just want to mention that this issue – above everything – is about saving lives.
We’re obliviously fortunate to live in a country where everyone has access to free healthcare. That right is gradually being eroded away, and when all is said and done, this issue is not about tax money wasted or even, I’m sad to say, doctors, nurses and staff losing jobs, but it’s about endangering the lives of anyone who cannot afford to pay for healthcare. Which in these austeratorial (not actual word) times, counts for a great many of us
If Huddersfield A&E closes, it will put thousands of lives at risk. To go without access to emergency treatment on your door step, is not a shame, it’s a social injustice. No one – rich or poor – should be without that basic human right.
Of course, the idea is to move the emergency department to Calderdale Hospital but that’s no solution at all. It simply puts greater strain on already vulnerable people, at moments in their lives when time may be of the essence. If you think that sounds overly dramatic, this eye-opening article from the brilliant Standard Issue should show how, literally, minutes can count.
It’s a dangerous game to treat A&E departments like pieces on a Monopoly board, moving them round until the payments feel more manageable. For a start, Monopoly is dull as shit, but at least it doesn’t end with a string of dead bodies – overlooked elderly people in need of care, young vulnerable infants more susceptible to illnesses, and yes, even us averagely healthy people who can’t be trusted not to fall down stairs or bite the insides of our cheek. We all need protecting.
None of this is to mention the considerable strain that this decision would put onto Calderdale Hospital.
Now, in the interest of transparency, I live in Halifax. However, my reason for caring is not because I might have to wait a little bit longer when I go for my bi-annual stomach pumping, but because hundreds of thousands of people – in Huddersfield and Halifax – are at substantial risk. That’s in excess of 250,000* people who could find themselves needing assistance in one facility.
I urge you to do what you can to support this fight – at the very least, please sign the petition to stop this decision. (That rhymed, it wasn’t meant to.)
You may not see the point if you’re cosy and safe in Gateshead, or sitting in your ivory tower in Surrey, or even on a weekend away in Nantwich. The fact is, there’s also a proposal to close the Trafford General Hospital Emergency Care Unit – and no doubt others – so what’s to stop them closing more?
You can be sure that the vulnerable staff members at Huddersfield probably won’t find work in Halifax, and that any money saved during the closure will not then be ploughed into improving the level of care available to patients. The inevitable truth is, hospitals will become even more overcrowded, while remaining chronically underfunded and woefully under-staffed.
My heart goes out to all nurses, doctors, junior doctors and NHS staff in general. They’re at the front line of a job most of us wouldn’t, and couldn’t, do. Yet, if these proposals are the sign of what’s to come, pretty soon they won’t have jobs to worry about. Then the country really will be a dangerous place to live.
I pray for our inner cheeks.
Please sign the petition to stop the closure of Huddersfield A&E department.
*I Googled these figures so don’t quote me, it also claims that Leslie Nielsen has died again.