CAMPAIGNERS from Leek took part in a mass protest at hospital bed closures during a meeting of health chiefs yesterday.
Members of the Save Leek Hospital Campaign joined forces with those fighting to save Bradwell Hospital.
NHS Care For All also comprises councillors from Leek, Newcastle, Stoke-on-Trent, MPs as well as representatives from the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the CWU, campaigning group Healthwatch and the North Staffs Pensioners’ Convention.
The groups staged their protest at the annual general meeting yesterday of the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups at the bet365 Stadium.
After moving a ‘vote of no confidence’ from the floor of the meeting, they condemned the fact that the CCGs have closed community hospital beds across the area without consultation, ignored local authorities, MPs and communities, put patients at risk and caused morale amongst NHS and Social Care staff to collapse. It was revealed in June that 95 NHS workers face losing their jobs at Leek Moorlands Hospital after falling victim to the programme of bed closures.
The affected staff – including nurses, support workers, admin, cleaners and cooks – are subject to a consultation after being told they will no longer be needed at Leek Moorlands Hospital from October.
Beds have already been lost at Longton Cottage Hospital, Bradwell Hospital and Cheadle Hospital. A ward has also been mothballed at Burslem’s Haywood Hospital.
Yesterday more than 40 protesters with posters and banners gathered outside the main entrance of the bet365 Stadium.
Protesters then made their way into the CCG meeting.
Pam Wood, founder of the Save Leek Hospital action group, said: “What we’re doing is taking the Save Leek Hospital campaign to another level. We are joining forces with the other campaign groups in the area and working together.
“The CCGs haven’t listened to anything we have said. They’ve not listened to any of our arguments. They’re just continuing with the closure of services in Leek. They’re going to close down more and more beds at Leek Hospital until it’s no longer feasible to keep it going at all. They’re just running it down.”
The protest yesterday comes ahead of a debate by Staffordshire County Councillors on Thursday about the threat to the Leek Moorlands Hospital.
A petition – under the heading of Save Leek Moorlands Hospital: Stop Closures of Community Hospitals – containing 25,000 names has been handed into the authority by Pam Wood. Under the council’s Petition Scheme any petition exceeding 5,000 signatures triggers a debate.
At the meeting Pam will have five minutes to present the petition.
After this councillors will have the opportunity to debate the issue. The council will then agree what action to take in response to the petition.
Charlotte Atkins will move the following motion: “This Council recognises the vital role played by Leek Moorlands and other Staffordshire community hospitals and urges our Clinical Commissioning Groups to reconsider their proposals to close our community hospitals against the wishes of local people.”