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Thousands in Save Stafford Hospital protest

Staffordshire | | Published:

[gallery] 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.

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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.

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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:

  • See also - David Cameron backs Stafford Hospital fight

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