THE CHILDREN of Stafford will follow in the footsteps of the tens of thousands who marched in April to fight to save services at Stafford Hospital next month.
A specially organised children’s march on Saturday September 28 will set off from Market Square at 2pm, with thousands of the town’s young people expected to turn out to rally around campaigners fighting administrators’ recommendations for Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Support Stafford Hospital campaigner Cheryl Porter said the services threatened by the proposals – which would see maternity and in-patient paediatrics and emergency care stripped from the hospital and critical care downgraded – were those needed most by the town’s most vulnerable people.
“It’s the vulnerable people that are going to suffer if these services go, the pregnant women, the mums, the babies and the children,” she said.
“There are a lot of very frightened little children out there right now," she said. "Children that have to rely on the children’s ward at Stafford Hospital and those that attend it regularly need those services.
“A lot of them have grown up on the wards there being treated regularly.
“If we start messing around with kid’s healthcare now, how are they expected to be healthy as they get older?”
Mrs Porter said she wanted the people of the town to turn out in force as they had in April and urged people to bring their children and grandchildren, and for pregnant women and parents all to turn out, to show the administrators they were serious about protecting the services in their town.
“These recommendations are taking us back in time thirty years,” said Mrs Porter. “In the past, women had to travel to Grounslow Hospital to have their babies.
“They built this hospital to stop that because of all the terrible things that were happening to mothers forced to make the journey.
“When a woman gives birth she comes the closest to death she’s likely to come in her life,” said Mrs Porter. “It’s a very dangerous time.”
The march will culminate on the field surrounding Stafford Hospital where a host of activities are planned to entertain children of all ages including fairground rides, bouncy castles, slides, face-painting, a teddy bear’s picnics for the youngest and a live DJ and music for the teenagers.
Additionally a giant mural will be created on the day using children’s hand prints to create a giant collage representing the support of the community for the services threatened by the administrator’s plans.
“I know they say there isn’t the money and these services have to go, but if they can spend nearly £8m on administrators surely they can find something to save such important services for local people,” said Mrs Porter. “It’s farcical really.
“The children of today are the people of tomorrow and that’s why we need to protect their services now.
Maggie Oldham, chief executive at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are really grateful for the support and interest of local people of all ages.”