Stoke & Staffordshire

Stafford Hospital march for children's services to stay

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Media captionCampaign group Support Stafford Hospital oppose plans to move some services

Thousands of campaigners have marched in opposition to plans to move maternity and paediatric care from Stafford Hospital.

The rally, organised by the Support Stafford Hospital (SSH) pressure group, comes just days before a public consultation ends.

Trust Special Administrators want to break up the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and move some units.

Children's and maternity services could be moved to neighbouring hospitals.

SSH have opposed the plans, saying they equate to a "downgrade" of care for patients.

Cheryl Porter, from the pressure group, said: "We have to keep going and keep fighting for this and we have to show people how important it is because they [the administrators] are obviously ignoring what we've told them before.

"This is just to say we're staying around, we're not going away and we're not lying down and being given what you think we should have."

Protestors gathered in Stafford's market square before marching to the nearby hospital in a "public show of strength".

In April, a demonstration against downgrading services at Stafford drew 50,000 protestors, but this event was on a much smaller scale.

Organisers claimed between 15,000 and 20,000 participants took part, but other observers disputed the claim saying it was nearer to 5,000.

Afterwards, the chief executive of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, Maggie Oldham, paid tribute to those involved.

"I thank the organisers who have invested a great deal of time, energy and resources into making today's march a happy and safe occasion," she said.

"Also I would like to say a big thank you to all of the children and to everyone else who has taken part.

"It means a great deal to staff to witness the strength of local feeling and the widespread support for the hospital."

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