A public consultation on controversial changes to hospital services in Calderdale and Huddersfield officially starts today.
Accident and emergency care could be centralised at an expanded hospital in Halifax under the proposals, which would see Huddersfield lose its A&E department.
Both towns would have Urgent Care Centres treating less serious ailments as the most serious emergencies are taken straight to Calderdale Royal Infirmary.
Huddersfield’s existing 400-bed infirmary would be knocked down and replaced with a 120-bed site for planned hospital treatments.
Up to 300 beds could be added to Calderdale hospital, which would get a specialist paediatric emergency centre and continue to provide consultant-led maternity services for both towns.
The proposals are designed to tackle a £280m funding gap as government funding for the NHS falls behind the current cost of services.
Drop-in information sessions and public meetings will be held by Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) during the 14-week consultation period.
Dr Alan Brook, chairman of Calderdale CCG, said: “We believe that the proposed changes, developed by senior doctors and nurses, will make the best use of available resources and will help us to deliver safe, high quality services in our hospitals and in our communities for years to come.”
The proposals have sparked protests from people worried that a single A&E would leave some patients with too far to travel for emergency treatment.
Campaigners in Halifax are also alarmed about extended journey times if services including planned operations are moved to a hew hospital at Acre Mills in Huddersfield.
The CCGs’ official consultation document, summary and survey are available by logging on to www.rightcaretimeplace.co.uk or by calling 01484 464212 or texting 07771 334724.
For a list of public meetings and information sessions, click here
Consultation materials will also be available at GP practices, hospitals, pharmacies and libraries.