STAFFORD Hospital campaigners are calling for a mass turn-out of supporters at the camp in the hospital grounds at 11am today, Thursday, to protest at the planned closure of the hospital's consultant-led maternity unit.
News leaked out after a staff meeting last night that the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, which will be responsible for Stafford Hospital services from November, plans to stop consultant-led maternity services.
A statement from UHNS is expected later today, but a spokesman denied that removing specialist obstetrics consultants would mean the end of all births at Stafford Hospital.
However, campaigners fighting to keep a full range of hospital services in Stafford say any birth with the potential for complications would have to go to Stoke - effectively spelling the end of Stafford's maternity unit.
The Support Stafford Hospital campaign has put out Facebook and Twitter messages urging supporters to muster at the camp this morning, and say they are expecting regional and national media interest in the latest developments.
Staford MP Jeremhy Lefroy said he was "very concerned" about the maternity plans. "If this decision has been made on staffing and safety grounds, then the Trust needs to say what the safety grounds are and what steps were taken to mitigate them before this decision was taken,” he said.
And Councillor Mike Heenan, Leader of Stafford Borough Council said he was devastated by the decision.
"The people of Stafford have indicated clearly that they do not support the movement of consultant led maternity services to UHNS," he said