THe Reporter Series made readers’ views heard this week when editor Hannah Ridgeway gave a 10,600-name petition to hospital bosses.
The petition calls upon the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust to keep a 24-hour consultant-led A&E department open at Dewsbury and District Hospital.
It was handed to interim chief executive Stephen Eames and trust board chairman Jules Preston MBE.
Miss Ridgeway said: “There’s a huge strength of feeling. I think there always will be with A&E.
“Dewsbury has health issues – quite serious ones and quite specific in some areas. People want to know the services at their local hospital are a priority.”
The petition, part of the Reporter Series campaign Don’t let A&E become a casualty, was backed by thousands of readers and more than 100 venues in North Kirklees who helped to collect signatures.
It was begun in response to the public outcry at news that the Trust was thinking about downgrading Dewsbury’s A&E department.
Mr Eames said: “We’re in the pre-consultation phase at the moment so we’re still listening very hard.
“This petition is a very important contribution to the debate. It’s expressing the strength of feeling of local people in the area and we take that very seriously.”
He said the proposals must focus on improving the quality of care on offer, medical evidence, accessibility, and affordability in the long term.
The Trust is looking at two options for changes to various services across its sites.
Dewsbury would keep a full A&E department under one option, but would have an urgent care centre for minor illnesses and injuries only under the other.
The Trust is planning a formal consultation on its preferred option, which is due to begin in March.