STAFFORD Hospital plans are nothing more than a downgrade, the town's council boss claims.
Borough leader Mike Heenan spoke out after administrators revealed their recommendat ions for the future of the hospital.
Councillor Heenan called for mass government lobbying while Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy was preparing to meet secretary of state Jeremy Hunt yesterday for urgent talks on the proposals.
Joint administrator Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor announced to a packed press conference in Stafford yesterday that a midwife-led maternity unit would remain managing 50 per cent of births.
Under the plans, which have to be endorsed by Monitor and Mr Hunt, a paediatric unit would be run in conjunction with the hospital's 14-hour a day A&E unit, with sick children sent to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire for night-time treatment.
The critical care unit would allow patients to be treated at Stafford providing the necessary staff were in place. Hospital management couldl be transferred to UHNS by next autumn.
The proposals have been blasted by Mr Lefroy, Councillor Heenan and campaigners.
Mr Lefroy said: " I don't think the proposals for paediatric services are right or adequate, particularly overnight, and I'm going to make that very clear.
"The potential is here for a very good solution but there are some details, particularly around children and mothers, that need to be sorted out and I'm determined to do that."
Councillor Heenan said: "The fight continues. I get the feeling it's a downgrade but not the downgrade they were proposing. We are in a better position today than we were some months ago when consultation started. The administrators have listened in some small measure to the concerns of the community. However the announcement is unacceptable to us. It sells Stafford short - we are a growing town and we service in Stafford. We would like a full consultant-led maternity unit in Stafford. We should have a full paediatric unit operating taking children at whatever time of the day or night. I need to examine the proposals for the CCU but we should retain it. We have got to lobby the secretary of state and Monitor now."
Cheryl Porter, of Support Stafford Hospital, said: "I'm angry. They haven't managed to get the deficit down. All they have done is move money around. They have fudged the ICU, there's a children's assessment unit tagged on the end of an A and E that's open 14 hours. They're not giving us back a 24/7 A and E. People don't request to go to midwife led maternity units so that won't last long.
"Children ill overnight will have to go to Stoke. There are health inequalities for mothers and children of this town. It's a fudge. It's cost £10 million and they still haven't got the deficit down yet - they're giving money to other hospitals which are in more deficit than we are. It's a farce. Our fight goes on."