Thousands in Save Stafford Hospital protest

Around 40,000 people turned out for a protest in Stafford in support of the town's hospital.

Protesters holding banners and placards made their way from Market Square in the town up to the hospital today.

Nurses, doctors and other staff from the hospital also took part in the demonstration.

One woman, Heather Wilhelms, a widow whose husband, mother and father died within 18 months at Stafford Hospital, had to be restrained by officers after angrily confronting members of the rally.

However, organiser Cheryl Porter, from the Support Stafford Hospital group, said the day had been a huge success.

She said: "This has exceeded our expectations. We thought we'd get 10,000 people. We never thought we'd see over 40,000."

The march came  as administrators this week moved in to take control of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Health watchdog Monitor has already recommended to the Government that services be downgraded at Stafford and Cannock hospitals, sparking the outcry from people in the county and fears that Walsall and Wolverhampton hospitals will come under increased pressure.

The protest, led by bands, VIPs and civic leaders, set off at 2pm in Market Square, marching to Stafford Hospital.

Banners were put up across the town and blue ribbons tied to railings in support of the demonstration.

Political parties were united in their support of today’s march as civic leaders joined the many thousands of protesters on the rally.

All councillors were urged to join the march in a campaign that has won the support of party leaders and local MPs.

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday pledged support for the cause – to protect services at Stafford and Cannock hospitals.

Campaigners say this is only the start of efforts to save the hospitals and they aim to win over the support of the administrators who moved in this week to take over the running of the trust.

Live blog from this afternoon's protest:

Comments for: "Thousands in Save Stafford Hospital protest "

Sandy

I marched today and it was so worthwhile. Stafford and its surrounding areas need the hospital. I for one do not want to have to travel to Stoke, Wolverhampton or Walsall if I am taken seriously ill. I hope that the Administrators now understand the feelings of the local people for their hospital. The past, sad as it was, is the past and we must look to the future now and Save our Hospital.

Robert

The past has gone now. The massive area covered by Stafford and Cannock Hospitals need them to survive. Their loss would be a tremendous disaster to patients in the area . I am lucky to say that I was in Stafford Hospital several times between 2007-2009 and was treated with the utmost cae by staff on all occassions Can only speak as I found. They were responsible for my recovery from Cancer for which I will obviously be forever indebted.. Lets all get behind the supporters

Rob

Their previous existence was also a tremendous disaster to quite a few patients in the area.

I'm surprised that the union agitators, dedicated as they are, against the "savage cuts" said absolutely nothing about the outrage.

Maybe it was in their financial interests to remain silent?

Julie Looker

I am proud to say me and my family joined the march. My son was born by C-section at Stafford hospital. I cannot say how grateful I am to all the staff at the hospital and all the hard work they do every day.

We need to keep Stafford acute services open.

GIVE US BACK OUR A&E

ruth dyson

I marched today I'm proud to be a nurse at stafford hospital what a turn out thank you to all the people that came out to support all the staff at the hospital let's march on london next

Chris

We were proud to join the march yesterday ,my two daughters and son were all born at Stafford .All our family have been treated over the years at the Hospital receiving good quality of care .I feel sorry for anybody who has suffered or lost loved ones in the past due to the problems that have been highlited in the Frances report .What the goverment monitors need to consider is the increased pressure on the other Hospitals due to the A&E over night closure ,But also the large Housing developments planned for Stafford and Cannock.Credit should be given to the staff at the midstaffs hospitals for there hard work and professionalism to continue working through the media coverage and the Frances Report STAFFORD NEEDS TO RETAIN ITS ACUTE SERVICES

bev

I am proud to say all four of my children were born at stafford hospital. My youngest son was born early b emergency c-section n was critically ill. If it wasn't for the quickness help n support from the staff my son would not be here today. I am very grateful to all of them. My son has also been in and out of hospital since and they have always cared for my children amazingly.

WE NEED TO KEEP STAFFORD ACUTE SERVICES OPEN.

Alan

Is it ethical that one of the appointed Administrators also served on the Monitor panel that recommended the downgrading?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-22157149 -refers.

Yasmeen Prince

If anything stafford trust took everything from Cannock, they should be made to put all the services they took from Cannock back then everyone from Cannock would not have to struggle to have to keep going to stafford after all in the end they could not cope so why not share the services again with Cannock

Mr & Mrs Begg

Our daughter gave birth to a girl by C-section at the hospital very recently. The care she received was excellent. As soon as it became clear the baby was not going to be born naturally the staff moved swiftly and efficiently to do all that was necessary. As the maternity unit is a long way from the main entrance we had several opportunities to see other parts of the hospital which seemed to us well maintained and friendly. Whilst we were absolutely horrified at the terrible events at Mid-Staffs it would be a great shame if the hospital were closed, putting other units in the area under great strain. Just put right what went wrong - ensure it cannot happen again.

Please keep the maternity unit and other acute services open.

mandi2cats

As a nursing sister at a hospital in the next city, I can tell you first hand that my NHS Trust does not have anywhere near enough beds for our city or surrounding villages. Day & night as you pass the A/E Dept. you can often see ambulances lined up trying to admit their patients to an already packed resus dept, whilst there remain no empty beds in the too small wards & departments.

An emergency ambulance ride from Stafford to Wolverhampton or Stoke would take 20 mins min, more like 30 mins. By the time that patient has been admitted you must be looking at an hour or longer. That time delay will cost lives of Stafford residents there will be less emergency ambulances available. Would you like your family member to wait for the ambulance to return from out of town whilst they are in premature labour, having a heart attack, stroke, road traffic accident.......etc..........

I attended the rally on saturday and was proud to stand with my family & friends who work at the SDGH, and /or have been patients themselves.

Instead of dissing all staff who work there, read the report that concluded THE HOSPITAL WAS UNDERSTAFFED.

KEEP UP THE GOOD HARD WORK SDGH & CANNOCK WORKERS, KEEP ALL SERVICES OPEN YOUR TOWN NEEDS YOU.