HUNDREDS of campaigners resisting the closure of a West Yorkshire hospital will circle around the building holding hands today.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust wants to shut the 400-bed Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) including its A&E unit, transfer most of its functions to Calderdale Royal Infirmary in neighbouring Halifax, and replace HRI with a smaller cottage hospital.
Hands Off HRI campaigners have been protesting for 20 months against the proposals, petitioning Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and running regular stalls in Huddersfield town centre.
Among those taking part in today’s symbolic encircling will be Nicola Jackson, who has seen first-hand how vital the hospital is for the local community.
She told the Star: “I was treated there for breast cancer. When my daughter was born there, she had septicaemia and was treated for that in special care.
“When she was 13, she suffered a burst duodenal ulcer and was treated at HRI again.
“My mother is being treated at HRI for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Ms Jackson, who regularly helps run the twice-weekly stall, warned: “The trust is already working on transferring the cardiology and respiratory wards to Halifax.
“We are ramping up our campaign.”
Today’s protest assembles at 11.30am at Lindley playing fields, before moving around the hospital.
Previous protests have attracted turnouts of more than 2,000 people.
As well as signing more people up to a petition against the closure, the campaigners are seeking a judicial review of the decision.
Hands Off HRI solicitors Irwin Mitchell have been given written assurances by the trust that the closures are only temporary and are expected to return to HRI following the winter.
A Hands Off HRI spokesperson said: “While the trust claim these moves are only temporary, we remain sceptical and especially vigilant. That’s why our protest has been called and why we will be going ahead.
“We continue to be contacted by staff and patients who are very upset about the moves and some staff are even talking of leaving their positions. This is a disgraceful state of affairs.”
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