New hospitals plans are #NotSafeNotFair – please tell the #FuturePlans engagement!

Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals Trust is in the middle of a rushed, tickbox public engagement on the new buildings plans that ends on 29th March. Their aim is to include people’s responses in the Planning Applications pack in May as evidence of public involvement in the plans.

Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS think this engagement is invalid because the plans are #NotSafeNotFair. If you agree, please complete the Future Plans engagement survey by 29th March. Suggested responses and a link to the engagement website are below.

We’re very worried that we’re going to end up with A&Es, emergency wards and a single Intensive Care Unit that are all too small to be safe.

The Trust need to slow down and take the time to come up with evidence that their decision to keep hospital bed numbers at 2019 levels is safe, given that their own Strategic Outline Case shows hospital use is forecast to increase due to population growth.

They say their aspiration is that Care Closer to Home services will cut A&E attendance and reduce emergency hospital bed days by more than 10% over 5 years – but they’ve not come up with any evidence to support this aspiration.

There should be a commitment from the Trust to develop plans that don’t disadvantage the most vulnerable in our society.  Every help must given to those who struggle, whether that be physically, mentally or financially.The plans that the Trust have developed do not do this.

  • People on low incomes will be less able to access hospital care, because of the bigger distances they’ll have to travel – Calderdale people will have to travel to Huddersfield for planned operations and rehab/step down care; Huddersfield people will have to travel to Halifax for blue light A&E, emergency hospital admission, paediatric and consultant maternity services.
  • A lot of consultations and outpatients will require access to digital technology. Covid 19 homeschooling has already proved what a problem lack of smartphones/laptops/tablets/access to good broadband has been for many many families.
  • As services shift out of hospital into people’s home, families and friends will increasingly have to bear the brunt of caring for patients

On 19 March, Calderdale and Kirklees Councillors Joint Health Scrutiny Committee asked the hospitals Trust for evidence that the planned hospital capacity is safe. They’ve been asking for the last two years. They also asked for evidence that the plans won’t worsen health inequalities.

If you too are worried that the plans are #NotSafeNotFair, please tell CHFT by completing the Future Plans engagement by 29th March. Their engagement webpage is here:

You’re welcome to use and adapt the following CK999 response as you see fit

(And you can download it here too:

Q1 How often on average do you visit the hospital?

Tick whichever box applies or comes closest

Q2 Which of the following best describes you?

Tick ‘other’

In the “Other please specify” box, you could write something like:

I am a Calderdale/ Huddersfield [delete as appropriate] resident. What matters to me is that BOTH new hospital buildings are safe for the future populations of BOTH Calderdale and Kirklees. But there is no evidence that the planned capacity of the hospitals is going to be adequate. The plan does NOT increase current bed numbers in order to cater for demographic growth, and does NOT identify A&Es’ capacity to absorb forecast increased activity due to demographic growth. CHFT should not be engaging the public and preparing planning applications without evidence that the plans are safe and fair.

Q3 What is most important to you when you arrive at our site to attend Accident & Emergency?

Tick ‘other’

In the ‘Other please specify’ box, you could write something like:

None of these design details is the most important to me when I come to A&E. What is most important is that the A&E is big enough, with enough A& E staff including consultants and anaesthetists, that it can accommodate and promptly provide appropriate treatment for all patients on an open access basis.

Q4 Based on your experience or understanding of the Accident and Emergency department tell us what is most important to you when using this service or working in or around this department?

Tick Other

In ‘Other – please specify’ box, you could write something like:

I want A&E capacity to be based on factual evidence not the assumed ability of Care Closer to Home to avoid the need for accident and emergency attendance.  I want planned capacity to be safe with sufficient staff and facilities to meet population need and allow direct access in an emergency. If and when the NHS Commissioners do produce evidence, based on the performance since 2018 of the Care Closer to Home programmes, that the planned hospital capacity is safe, this would be most important to me in the A&E department:

  1. good ventilation to minimise the transmission of airborne infections
  2. other effective infection control measures
  3. rest space for staff
  4. capacity is sufficient to promptly and effectively meet the needs of all patients even during winter pressures .

Q5 Which factors would make the new Accident and Emergency a better place for building/service users/partners & site neighbours?

Tick Other

In ‘Other – please specify’ box, you could write something like:

Planning its capacity on the basis of evidence from the Calderdale and Kirklees Care Closer to Home programmes – not on the  unevidenced assumption that those programmes will reduce A&E attendances

Q6 What things would make the new car park a better place for building/service users/partners & site neighbours?

Tick Other

In ‘Other – (please state)’ box, you could write something like:

Have you any other comments or suggestions on the building proposals?

Parking should be free for NHS staff and as cheap as possible for patients and their visitors. I am worried that the need for CHFT to seek public or commercial joint venture funding to pay for the new car park means the debt will be costly to service and repay, and this will mean parking charges will be high.

People will be travelling further to hospital, with associated increased costs, as Calderdale people will have to go to HRI for planned care and Greater Huddersfield people will have to go to Halifax for emergency/acute care,  I worry that on top of this,  high parking charges would deter people from attending hospital or cause them financial distress.

This engagement is invalid without data to show whether, since 2018, Care Closer to Home programmes have significantly reduced unplanned hospital bed days and A&E attendance, and are in line to meet the 10% reduction target. To move forward with planning applications in this situation is a waste of public money. Planning permission should only be sought once there is certainty, based on clear, reliable consistent evidence from the performance since 2018 of the Care Closer to Home programmes, that the planned capacity of the hospitals will be safe for patients and staff.

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