Health bosses say lessons have been learned over the seven-month delay to the opening of Huddersfield’s new £15 million A&E department.

The Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust is embarking on a large-scale reconfiguration of services across Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.

The new-build A&E is the first part of the scheme to be completed and Trust bosses are keen to ensure other developments don’t hit problems which could be avoided.

Public open days were held at the new A&E last September ahead of a planned opening in October.

However, checks found that the wrong jointing compound had been used in water pipework and it had to be stripped out and replaced.

The new unit eventually treated its first patient at 10 minutes past midnight on May 22, some seven months later.

Speaking at a meeting of the Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, Dr Mark Davies, consultant in emergency medicine and clinical lead for the A&E development, said lessons would be learned.

“There will be much tighter, not controls, but oversight of inspections,” he said. “We had a number of supervisors from within the construction partner and who work for us independently but there’s a time we need to increase that level of supervision.”

Dr Davies stressed that resolving the pipework issue came at no cost to the Trust and that the remedial work was paid for by the contractor.



The new A&E, which has seen more than 8,000 patients in its first month, has had a period of “bedding in” but staff were now getting used to the new environment, said Dr Davies.

He added: “We haven’t changed anything significantly yet. We were keen not to make knee-jerk decisions from the outset and there was nothing critical that we needed to change. There will be a full review of how it’s gone over the last month and how we need to tweak things.

“And then there will be work going ahead on how we change the way we work to maximise the benefits the building brings.

“It’s been a big change to start with and there’s a limit to how much you can expect a big group of staff to change where they’re working and how they work.”

Planning for the overall reconfiguration of services began as far back as 2013 when, at that time, it was proposed to close the A&E at HRI altogether. It was only saved due to a huge public campaign.

Dr Davies said opening the new A&E had now given Trust staff a lift and a boost to morale. He added: “There’s a sense of enthusiasm and almost a springboard within the organisation that this has become real after 11 years.”

There had also been a boost to recruitment too and Dr Davies said: “We have managed to recruit a couple of new consultants because there’s evidence of investment in emergency care in Huddersfield and Halifax.”



Under questioning by Crosland Moor & Netherton councillor Jo Lawson, leader of Kirklees Community Independents Group, Dr Davies explained that currently all patients who turned up at the HRI A&E were treated at Huddersfield.

Heart attack patients or those with serious trauma were taken to Leeds while an agreement with Yorkshire Ambulance Service sees unwell children and people who have had suspected strokes taken straight to Calderdale. Frail or elderly patients or people with injuries go to Huddersfield.

In future – when new A&Es are built at Calderdale – all blue light ambulances will go to the Halifax hospital. Anyone who turns up at Huddersfield with an “acute” problem will be transferred to Calderdale.

The HRI A&E is the first part of a wider £200 million reconfiguration of services at the two hospitals which remains on target for completion in 2029, although funding has yet to be confirmed by the Government.

HRI will see investment in existing buildings and will become a ‘planned care’ centre while Calderdale Royal Hospital will have additional wards, two new theatres, a new A&E and a children’s A&E.

The Trust is currently working with construction firm Laing O’Rourke on plans for the new buildings at Halifax.

Meanwhile, building work on a new Learning and Development Centre at Calderdale for staff and students is due for completion in August or September 2024.

Dr Davies added: “This is the start of a very long programme. The decision to change the way we deliver care started in 2013 and since then we have gone through a process of defining the model of care.

“This is just the start and there’s another big chapter waiting to be delivered.”

Councillors on the committee urged the Trust to engage with the public at an early stage and explain which services would be provided at which hospital.


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