A GROUP of hospital campaigners who united to fight the closure of Stafford's A&E last year have urged the community to band together to fight for future healthcare services in the town.
Cheryl Porter, who formed Support Stafford Hospital alongside Sue Hawkins and Karen Howell, said she felt others were more qualified to comment on the Francis Report but asked people to rally over the future of healthcare in the community.
“Our focus has always been on and will continue to be on a 24 hour A&E at Stafford,” she said. “If this is lost the majority of services will be too.
“The knock on effect will be devastating for our community.”
She said it was important to recognise that Stafford Hospital was now led by a different management team which engages with the public, the councils and the press and was accountable.
Mrs Porter said details from the NHS Staff Survey 2013 showed 83 per cent of staff at Stafford Hospital would happily have their friends and family treated there.
“Both Stafford and Cannock Hospitals have been doing David Cameron's so called ‘new’ friends and family test since April 2012 and over 90 per cent of respondents said they would recommend Stafford,” she said. “Our community wants local services for local people.
“More than 20,000 local people signed a petition asking for 24 hour A&E services.”
Mrs Porter said there were a number of opportunities for people to get involved in shaping the future of local healthcare services.
“It’s up to people to engage in these and make their feelings known,” she said. “If we are not careful, we may be too late to prevent the break up of our hospitals and services.”
Mrs Porter urged people to write to their MPs, councillors, the press, the commissioning groups who dictate what services will be and where they will be provided, and to tell them what healthcare services they thought must be provided locally.
“We need to show again that the community wants safe, local services for local people,” she said.