Talks to form a national group to stop hospital downgrade

By Ian Dipple Thursday 14 August 2014 Updated: 15/08 09:07

CAMPAIGNERS battling to Save the Alexandra Hospital are in talks with groups across the country to form a national organisation to fight closure plans.

Members of STA met with fellow campaigners battling to save services in Stafford, Lewisham, Manchester and Leeds to discuss joining forces to create a federation of hospital campaign groups which would create national as well as local pressure on those seeking to downgrade hospital services.

Campaigners feel many of the issues they are facing locally are also being battled by those elsewhere in the country and in most cases it is the same services - maternity and paediatrics - which are under threat.

Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, said there would be many advantages to creating a joint organisation to share clinical evidence, legal advice and support, without losing focus on their own individual battles.

"Some of the things they are being told around the clinical evidence is similar to what we are being told and if it doesn't stack up in Stafford or Lewisham then it doesn't stack up in Redditch," he said.

"We met with a senior paediatrician from Lewisham who questioned some of the reasons given, so we'll be looking very carefully again at that clinical evidence presented for downgrading services in Redditch. We're just lay people who have been bombarded with horror stories and reasons for the changes but there are always two sides to the story and that second side to the story is not always there.

"Since we started fighting this process in 2012 the evidence has changed. You only have to look at how the Keogh Review changed the A&E proposal for the Alex which would have been downgraded by 25 per cent, so evidence is changing all the time and that needs to be publicly available and understandable so we aren't just being blinded by the process."

Campaigners are currently pushing to persuade Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to order a re-run of the clinical review of the options for the Alex, saying the process which dismissed the option for University Hospitals Birmingham to take over the Woodrow Drive site was flawed and could be open to legal challenge.

An online petition calling for the review has so far been backed by more than 330 people. Visit www.goo.gl/IOrVVY to sign the petition.

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