ONE of the founder members of the Support Stafford Hospital group has stepped down along with three other members – but campaigners continue to deny there is a split in the group.
Sue Hawkins, who founded the campaign group with Cheryl Porter and Karen Howells, announced she was leaving this week.
It comes as fellow members Maurice Blisson, Brian Henderson and Eleanor Tristram have also left the group and just weeks after Councillor Rowan Draper announced his departure because of differing views about whether or not to pursue a judicial review.
Two judicial reviews have been lodged, one by a member of the public backed by Cheryl Porter and Karen Howells but not Support Stafford Hospital itself, and one by Labour's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Kate Godfrey.
Mrs Hawkins did not explain her reasons for leaving but said in a statement: "I was honoured, as one of the founding members of Support Stafford Hospital, to also have the opportunity to serve as chair of that group. I stepped down from that role last week.
"But the campaign was never about individuals. It was about a community coming together with a common purpose and a common goal and that goal has not changed. Support Stafford Hospital continually evolves to keep moving forwards, as it has since it formed.
"I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the dedicated, passionate and hardworking people that I have met during the campaign. I particularly wish to pay tribute to the staff of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust for continuing to work diligently for our community, in what are such difficult and uncertain times."
Mrs Porter said: "We are sorry to see Sue step down. She has her own personal commitments and I know she will continue to fight for the hospital in her own way.
"There is no split in the group. There have been differing opinions over whether to go for a judicial review but certainly no split.
"Support Stafford Hospital will continue the fight."