by John Millington
Health workers and local campaigners will join forces next week in an attempt to stop a downgrade of their local Stafford hospital.
Members of the Unison trade union will link up with campaign group Support Stafford Hospital and march through the town on April 20th.
Campaigners are angry at plans drawn up by NHS regulator Monitor which could see the hospital lose its A&E department, maternity unit and intensive care services.
The demonstration is expected to attract thousands following an online petition which has over 15,000 signatories against the downgrade.
Unison West Midlands Regional Organiser Ray Salmon said:
We agree with the aims of ‘Support Stafford Hospital’ Campaign, which is a group created by residents and includes, local people, community and patient groups, trades unions and politicians, all coming together to show support for Stafford Hospital.
Everyone is extremely concerned about the possibility that vital health services currently delivered at Stafford Hospital may either be downgraded or completely lost. They realise that should either of these two scenarios be the outcome of any review it will lead to a very unhealthy situation in Stafford with people and patients losing out.
We would encourage everyone in Stafford and the surrounding areas to join us next Saturday (20/4/13) and express the view that a full-compliment of acute health services should be retained at Stafford Hospital’
In a campaign letter being circulated to local councilors by Support Stafford Hospital activists, they acknowledge the recent problems at the hospital but insist they are in the past.
” Moving essential services like A&E, Intensive Care, and Maternity to other hospitals will cause anxiety and inconvenience to local families, and it will remove our choice to opt for treatment in Stafford,” the letter says.
” Those in need of emergency treatment will have much further to travel and this will inevitably result in poorer outcomes, or even in preventable deaths.”
Similar campaigns to save local NHS services have sprouted up all over the country following the passing of the Health and Social care act earlier this year.