PLANS to move Stafford Hospital services to Stoke have been defended by the Prime Minister.
David Cameron said today that the previous problems affecting the county town's hospital had made it difficult to cope.
But the expanded University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust, which will take on some of the services from the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, would be able to cope with the additional demand, despite dealing with its own £30 million debts, he stressed.
Speaking to BBC Radio Stoke he added: "I want people to be confident that we are putting the money into our NHS.
"In terms of Stafford Hospital itself, obviously everyone knows the problems that there have been, [and] what I'm determined to achieve is to make sure that people in Stafford still have access to safe and high-quality hospital services.
"Stafford is a large, vibrant, important county town, and it should have a hospital that caters for the people of that town and the area.
"I know how much it matters to people that you have your baby in your local hospital."
The transfer of services to University Hospital of North Staffordshire is being fiercely opposed by Stafford residents, including the Support Stafford Hospital group who are currently holding a protest camp in the hospital's grounds.
But Mr Cameron said the government had not underestimated the strength of feeling from protesters.