Linda Riordan: If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.
Linda Riordan: I am sure that the Secretary of State will agree that Pacer units are not fit for purpose and that Halifax passengers deserve new rolling stock. Will he now put a definite date on when we will get those much-needed trains?
Linda Riordan: What the clinical reasons are for plans to close Calderdale Royal hospital A and E department.
Linda Riordan: Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust failed to give one clear recommendation for closing a 24-hour A and E service in Halifax in its business plan. Is that simply because there aren’t any?
Linda Riordan: With this it will be convenient to discuss schedule 1.
Linda Riordan: Order. The Minister must be heard. I know that emotions are running high, but the Minister is replying and it is entirely up to her whether she chooses to give way.
Linda Riordan: Order. I will call the Front Benchers at about 3.30 pm, so I ask the two remaining speakers to limit their speeches to a maximum of five minutes each.
Linda Riordan: Before I call the next speaker, I remind the Chamber that several Members want to take part in the debate. I want to give the Minister enough time to reply to all the points raised, so I would be grateful if Members kept their speeches to about six minutes.
Linda Riordan: I can tell the hon. Member for Calder Valley (Craig Whittaker) that I have read the strategic review. Let me also make it clear that when the consultation began, the acute trust recommended the closure of the Halifax A and E.
Linda Riordan: I am delighted to have secured this debate on health services in Halifax, and I will focus particularly on the proposal to close the accident and emergency department, which is the most important issue that has faced Halifax since the banking crisis of 2008. The axe hanging over Calderdale Royal hospital has been handled in the most underhand way. People have been left in the dark over the...
Linda Riordan: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. Talking about confusion—that is what the whole debate is about today—let me remind him of his article in the Halifax Courier last week, in which he said: “There are no proposals to close our A and E”. Then we have the Conservative candidate’s website for Halifax: “On the frontline defending the A&E cut in Halifax”. There is his...
Linda Riordan: No. I am sorry, but I must make progress now. I would be grateful if the Minister explained to me the reality of the funding situation in Halifax. What has the clinical commissioning group been required to do? What front-line services will be a cut as a result of this financial black hole? My constituents want some answers today—they do not want fobbing off until next May. This issue is too...
Linda Riordan: No. There has been buck passing, misinformation and a lack of honesty and clarity. Neither the CCG, the trust nor the Government have stood up and accepted responsibility for what has taken place. Just because things have gone a bit quiet, it does not mean that this is not the biggest issue in town. It is difficult to know where to start. First, there is the closure by stealth that seems to...
Linda Riordan: No. If the existing 24-hour access with full A and E services is axed, it will not be an A and E. It is as simple as that. It is time to stop the spin and give us some substance.
Linda Riordan: No. The Government and the CCG know that they cannot do this. They know that there will be a public backlash; they have read the newspapers, seen the rallies, heard the debates and studied the letters. There is not one person in my constituency saying this is a good idea, or, if there is, I have yet to come across them. This is closure by stealth, by secrecy and by drawing out the whole sorry...
Linda Riordan: No. So what do I propose now? There is now a window of opportunity. The “Hands off our A and E” campaign has worked so far: we have delayed the closure, put the issue at the front of the debate and kept the issue at the top of the agenda. However, there is a lot more to do. The issue might have gone quiet, but it has not gone away. The so-called engagement process over the summer months...
Linda Riordan: Order. The sitting was suspended at 4.15 pm, but Members were back shortly after the vote. The rules are that we start again as soon as the Minister, the Member who proposed the debate and the Chair are back. As long as three Members are here, we can resume, which we did, and the debate finished at 4.38 pm. Helen Jones began her debate then.
Linda Riordan: Order.
Linda Riordan: Order.
Linda Riordan: Mr Drax, would you like 45 seconds?