Stafford Hospital campaigners call for Jeremy Hunt meeting

Campaigners have set up a camp outside Stafford Hospital in protest at services being downgraded have invited the health secretary Jeremy Hunt to meet them.

Supporters gather outside Stafford Hospital
Supporters gather outside Stafford Hospital

People have been camped on the hospital grounds for more than a month over the downgrading of the hospital which was deemed financially and clinically ‘unsustainable’.

The number of campers at the Weston Road site has swelled since hospital staff were told that consultants would leave the maternity unit in January, meaning most expectant mothers will be transferred to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire , New Cross in Wolverhampton or Walsall Manor, to give birth.

On the march at the hospital
On the march at the hospital

They held a protest march and one minute applause in support of staff after news of the changes planned for the maternity unit was revealed.

More than 200 protestors joined together to march from the campsite, where they have been pitched since June, to the main entrance of the hospital in a bid to show staff that they are not giving up despite the latest setback.

Karen Howell, Cheryl Porter, Anne-Marie Lowe from Highfields with Leyton Rose, 19 months, and Ocean Rose, aged four
Karen Howell, Cheryl Porter, Anne-Marie Lowe from Highfields with Leyton Rose, 19 months, and Ocean Rose, aged four
Making casserole are Sue Bennett, Margaret Middleton and Gill Weaver all from Stafford
Making casserole are Sue Bennett, Margaret Middleton and Gill Weaver all from Stafford

Campaigner Lee Middleton from Wildwood in Staffordshire led Wednesday's protest march and said the protestors have invited Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health to visit the site and hear people’s objections.

He said: “We would like him to visit us and explain why he is being ignored and why the review of the maternity ward is not going to happen until after the downgrade.”

See also : We'll stay until our services are saved, say Stafford Hospital campaigners

He said he called for a gathering on site because of the devastating news this week about the maternity unit.

"We knew staff morale would be very low so we wanted to do something to show the staff that we haven’t given up fighting and will still do everything we can to stop the process.”

MP Jeremy Lefroy
MP Jeremy Lefroy
Campaigners gather for music
Campaigners gather for music

Mr Middleton, 35 is a father of two and added: “Both my children were born at Stafford and were complicated pregnancies towards the end. They would have been classic examples of having to go to University Hospital of North Staffordshire and having seen the distress my wife was in, the last thing any pregnant woman needs is to be taken on a road journey to another hospital."

The tent village that has sprung up
The tent village that has sprung up

Mr Middleton added: “We have spoken to staff and they are humbled by our support and appreciate our efforts. The camp is here to stop the changes happening and we will be here for as long as it takes to save our services. The original proposals involved a two to three year transition process before the services were moved but now we are looking at a just two or three months. We are very angry at how this has panned out."