ALL communities served by Dewsbury and District Hospital must unite to fight for its future, a public meeting heard.
A crowd of around 60 people answered an open invite from the Dewsbury Socialist Party to start a community campaign to protect hospital services.
Already, thousands of people have signed various petitions opposed to the potential downgrading of local A&E services and changes to other hospital services.
But meeting chairman Paul Wheelhouse said: “We know that a petition only goes so far. We need now to move it on to the next stage which is creating a campaign group.
“It really heartens me to see so many people here tonight. It shows the strength [of feeling] in the people out there.”
Wednesday’s meeting at Dewsbury Town Hall heard from families whose loved ones had been treated at Dewsbury A&E and those concerned about travelling elsewhere.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust is currently looking at two options for services at Dewsbury, Pontefract, and Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. But a formal consultation on a preferred option is not due until next year.
Health campaigner Dr Jackie Grunsell said: “We don’t really know what the formal proposals will be. We need to anticipate what they might be and say to the Trust board that we want to be involved in that consultation now.”
She said there should be a referendum on the hospital issue.
She said: “If enough people oppose something then there should be a referendum on it and we want there to be a proper referendum across all the communities affected once they have the final proposal on the table.”
Unison’s Mid Yorkshire Health branch also pledged its support.
Its chairman Adrian O’Malley said: “We want decent services over all three sites. We don’t want people to have to travel.
“We shouldn’t just go for option one or two. We’ve got to campaign to save all acute services at Dewsbury.
“We’ve got to make sure it remains a district hospital with all services covered.”
The first meeting of the campaign organising committee is to be held on Thursday at Dewsbury Socialist Club, Bradford Road, 7pm.
Anyone interested in helping to organise the campaign is welcome. Alternatively, phone Jackie Grunsell on 07814 223177.
l A&E latest, p12-13