Calderdale and Huddersfield Trust has confirmed plans that could see Calderdale Royal Hospital’s emergency department in Halifax “temporarily” closed at night and patients sent to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary instead.

The proposals, confirmed this week by trust leaders, remain in place despite local commissioners having a long term plan, currently being examined by Jeremy Hunt, to implement an A&E closure – but at Huddersfield.

Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield clinical commissioning groups’ major acute reconfiguration programme proposes HRI’s A&E should close and the Halifax site become the health economy’s major emergency department.

The trust told HSJ Huddersfield was selected to temporarily retain a 24/7 service because it currently provides the trust’s trauma and emergency services. The move would not impact the long term plan, the trust said. A trust spokeswoman said they were contingency plans that may never be implemented, but they were now agreed in principle in case of staff shortages.

The long term plan involves trauma and emergency services being shifted to Halifax. Councillors last month accused the trust of moving services to Halifax because it was built under a controversial £298m private finance initiative deal and not consulting on the move properly.

The two hospitals are five miles apart. The reconfiguration would leave Huddersfield as the largest town in England without its own A&E department.

Chief operating officer Helen Barker said: “We have continuity plans in place for all our services to ensure safe care for our patients continues during an emergency situation.

“As part of this we have a business continuity plan for the temporary overnight closure of Calderdale A&E should we be unable to secure safe staffing levels. Calderdale A&E would be the one to close overnight as trauma and surgery is provided at Huddersfield.”

“This has been prompted by the ongoing national shortage of middle grade doctors.”

Calderdale and Kirklees councils’ joint health scrutiny committee referred the plans to the health secretary in July.