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Regional daily takes hospital fight to streets in ‘battle bus’

A regional daily toured its patch in a double decker ‘battle bus’ to raise awareness of its campaign to save a hospital’s accident and emergency department from closure.

Staff at the Huddersfield Daily Examiner spent two days spreading the word after a public consultation opened into plans to close the unit at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

The closure would mean patients would require a five-mile journey to Calderdale Royal Hospital, in Halifax, for treatment.

Among those signign a petition calling for the unit to be save were members of the Huddersfield Giants rugby league team.

Examiner editor Roy Wright , third right, with staff and members of protest group #HandsOffHRI with the battle bus

Examiner editor Roy Wright , third right, with staff and members of protest group #HandsOffHRI with the battle bus

Andy Hirst, the Examiner’s head of content, said: “It was clear almost as soon as the controversial plans were announced that there was a very strong groundswell of opinion against the proposal and we have been at the forefront of the campaign, working closely with leading members of the Facebook protest group #HandsOffHRI.

“From a meeting we had with them we decided to hire a battle bus for the day the official consultation was launched to get the message right out there across our communities and give people every opportunity to sign the petition against it.

“In the end we had the bus for two days and the reaction to it has been unbelievable with people waiting for us on the route we’d publicised – even right at the top of a windswept desolate hill called Holme Moss.

“It will be a tough battle but we are looking at this issue from every conceivable angle and have been regularly giving it a double page spread. Thousands of readers regard it as an issue which could have a direct impact on their lives.”

NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups which run health services in the area say it could save £240m – but the Examiner says Huddersfield is a growing town which needs “first-class health services”.