Julie Bailey backlash over CBE
She rose to prominence as she tirelessly campaigned for a public inquiry into standards of care at Stafford Hospital.
But fast forward six years and as a result of a newly awarded CBE, Julie Bailey remains a hugely divisive figure in her hometown.
While nationally praised for her determination to shine a light on the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, back in Stafford a number of people have blamed the health crusader for a planned downgrade of the town's hospital, which is set to lose key services.
Yesterday a storm erupted on social media, minutes after Miss Bailey, who had to move out of the town after suffering abuse, was included in the New Year's Honours list.
She is to be made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her services to the care of older people.
Among the printable views, Diane Wootton said that it was 'unbelievable', while Rebecca Morrison wrote: "I personally love how she's now listed as Warwickshire.
"How is it that someone not in our area can campaign against our services and get a CBE?
"Sure, things needed changing but not like this. What we have isn't helping anyone and it's isolating us from the rest of the country and wrecking a community."
Brian Cox said: "The Esteemed Honour of CBE – Cure Bailey's Exaggeration?"
Tim Aston added: "Julie Bailey awarded CBE in the New Years Honours List for her dedication in costing thousands of Staffordians a hospital in their town!"
Horrified as she watched her 86-year-old mother Bella die at Stafford Hospital, Miss Bailey was determined to expose what turned out to be the worst scandal in NHS history. She set up Cure the NHS in her cafe in Lichfield Road, and her fight to get justice and transform the culture of the health service took her all the way to Downing Street.
She was successful in getting a full public inquiry chaired by Robert Francis QC.
His report was published last year with 290 recommended reforms for the NHS.
In November, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt accepted 281 of the reforms and praised Miss Bailey for her efforts. But her battle came at a price – a personal sacrifice. She says she suffered abuse in the streets, desecration of her mother's grave, and was hounded out of her home in Stafford.
Meanwhile, Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was put into administration in early 2013 after it was deemed financially and clinically 'unsustainable'. The trust is to be dissolved, with the University Hospital of North Staffordshire taking over Stafford Hospital.
Maternity will be downgraded to a midwife-led unit, A&E will permanently be reduced to 14 hours, and most trauma and urgent care will be provided in Stoke or at Wolverhampton's New Cross, which will also take Cannock Hospital patients.
Cheryl Porter, of Support Stafford Hospital which is fighting to resist a downgrade, said she understood why people were unhappy but said Miss Bailey should be thanked for making the hospital a safer place. She said: "Julie highlighted the problems that were happening as the hospital pursued Foundation Trust status.
"Staff were cut to dangerous levels. But in two years the hospital has transformed and if Julie hadn't have spoken up we wouldn't have the good hospital we have now. I may be wrong but perhaps some feel she could have come on board and supported saving services at Stafford Hospital.
"Stafford is now one of the top hospitals in the country and we will continue to fight for services."
Politicians, health bosses and journalists were among those heaping praise on the announcement that Stafford Hospital campaigner Julie Bailey would be made a CBE.
While her vocal and effective crusade has caused controversy in her home town, her star has continued to rise nationally in what has been another tumultuous year for all involved in the sorry story of Stafford Hospital.
Though there has been a backlash on social media to her inclusion on the New Year Honours list, many have welcomed the decision.
Made an OBE, former Stafford A&E nurse turned whistleblower Helene Donnolly from Gnosall, was also on the list.
Congrats Julie Bailey @curetheNHS for your CBE. Well deserved and good to see Edwina Currie (@Edwina_Currie) December 31, 2013
Julie Bailey's CBE hopefully a small comfort after being terrorised for speaking truth to the NHS establishment Sean Worth (@SeanWorthPX) December 31, 2013
Congratulations to Julie Bailey and Helene Donnelly on their awards in the New Years Honours. Courage and truth will prevail. Frank Chapman (@FrankAChapman) December 31, 2013
Congratulations to Julie Bailey for @CureTheNHS campaign. She should work in government to expose bloated, corrupt bureaucracy of quangos.
— Nicolas Barlow (@NicolasBarlow) December 31, 2013
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