Stafford Hospital A&E fight: Plea to show 'positive' side

Campaigner Cheryl Porter Cheryl Porter said consultants had to be attracted by the "positives that are coming out of the hospital"

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Campaigners fighting to save accident and emergency services at Stafford Hospital say it is essential to show the "positives" of the hospital to attract new consultants.

The hospital's trust recently approved the three-month closure between 22:00 and 08:00 GMT, starting on 1 December.

The Support Stafford Hospital group held its first meeting on Friday night.

Campaigners said new staff had to be attracted so 24-hour emergency care could be reinstated soon.

More than 10,000 people have so far signed a petition calling for the emergency unit to be protected.

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust said earlier in the month that it had struggled to recruit staff, in part due to the negative publicity due to the ongoing public inquiry.

The hearing was called for following a higher than expected number of deaths at the hospital between 2005 and 2008.

The inquiry's chairman is due to publish a final report in the new year.

Mother-of-four Cheryl Porter, who set up the campaign group, said: "To bring these good consultants to our A&E, we've got to show them Stafford is a good place to be and there are good doctors at the hospital.

"That is our aim, to show the positives that are coming out of the hospital."

People's passion

The Support Stafford Hospital public meeting was held at Walton High School, Walton-on-the-Hill, on Friday night.

The hospital trust welcomed the meeting and said it showed how passionate people were about the hospital's services.

Trust chief executive Lynn Hill-Tout said the closure would only be temporary while it recruited additional staff.

She said: "Because of our staffing numbers we couldn't continue to sustain a safe A&E service [24 hours]."

Ms Hill-Tout added that the overnight closures would allow resources to be focused on the daytime.

Conservative MP for Stafford Jeremy Lefroy said he had received many letters from people worried that the closure could become permanent.

From 1 December, overnight emergency cases will be dealt with at other nearby A&E units, including Queen's Hospital in Burton, New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton and Walsall Manor Hospital.

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