Local campaigners from the National Childbirth Trust are throwing their weight behind the battle to prevent services at Stafford Hospital from being downgraded.
They are accusing the NHS managers of failing to uphold the Department of Health pledge that women should have a choice over where they give birth. And they have asked Stafford Mp Jeremy Lefroy for a meeting to discuss their concerns.
Maternity services at the hospital may be reduced from a consultant-led obstetric unit to a midwife-led unit, under plans drawn up by the Trust Special Administrators. There are also proposals to run the Paediatric Assessment Unit without a paediatrician - which protesters say will make it it the only service in the country to be managed in this way - and to close the paediatric inpatients services and the Special Care Baby Unit.
Protesters are also campaigning about reduced A&E opening hours and reductions in acute services, including surgery.
“Stafford Hospital is failing to uphold the Department of Health pledge that all women should be able to choose how and where they give birth," said Lisa Carter, regional partnership manager for the NCT.
“Stafford parents do not want to have to travel 20 miles to receive services that are currently available nearby, especially not if they are in labour or have seriously ill children.”
From Stafford, the nearest hospitals with paediatric services are University Hospital of North Staffs and Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital, both of which are around a 20-mile journey away.
Meanwhile the Support Stafford Hospital Group, which is currently staging a peaceful protest camp in the hospital grounds, is expecting more visitors from other hospitals under threat, who are backing the group's call for a national campaign against controversial NHS changes. Campaigners from London's Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals are due to visit later this week, and the Stafford camp has also been contacted by protesters from West Cumbria, and the Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield.