By Ian Dipple 10/08 Updated: 14/08 12:43
A POWERFUL signal is how Bromsgrove’s MP has described the public rally against cuts to services at the Alexandra Hospital.
Sajid Javid was unable to attend Saturday’s protest through neighbouring Redditch Town Centre as he is away on holiday, but scores of people from Bromsgrove were among the estimated 1,500 which did turn out to call for plans to cut A&E and maternity services at the Woodrow Drive hospital to be dropped.
Mr Javid told the Standard he was fully behind the Save the Alex campaign, which organised the rally, and believed the public had made a clear statement of opposition to the proposals by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
During the rally it was also revealed Mr Javid, along with Redditch MP Karen Lumley, had secured a meeting with the health minister to discuss the proposals along with a delegation from the Save the Alex campaign, and the leaders of Bromsgrove, Redditch and Stratford councils.
“The rally, along with the thousands of signatures on the petition, will send a powerful signal to NHS managers that the local community is united in wanting to keep A&E and maternity services at the Alex,” Mr Javid said.
“I’m pleased ministers have agreed to meet with me and Karen and local representatives to discuss our vision for the Alex.”
Coun Margaret Sherrey, deputy leader and responsible for health on Bromsgrove District Council, was due to attend the rally but an unexpected family emergency meant she had to pull out.
But the former nurse said she was fully behind the campaign and questioned whether plans for mass house building across Worcestershire had been taken into account.
“It’s vital to Bromsgrove District the Alex remains where it is. I can’t see how one A&E department can deal with the whole of Worcestershire,” she said.
“It’s just putting people’s lives at risk.”
Neal Stote, head of the Save the Alex campaign, told the crowd more than 46,000 people had signed the petition in seven weeks - an average of more than 900 a day.
“In contrast the Trust has engaged with 390 people with no attempt to speak to those outside the county.
“They were invited to our previous events in Redditch and were invited here today but they haven’t turned up because they don’t want to hear the bad news.”
He added there was no proof Worcestershire Royal could cope with increased demand if all or some of the Alex’s services were axed.
Many protesters had very personal reasons for attending, with some claiming the Alex had saved the lives of themselves or their loved ones.
Malcolm Hughes said his life had been saved on several occasions by the Alex.
“It is truly appalling. It’s not a case of money, it’s a case of people, people come first.”
In a statement, the Trust said it was ‘only right’ people should express their views about the future of Worcestershire health services and they were preparing for full consultation in November.
“All views expressed so far, including by campaigners, correspondence and at our seven public meetings will be taken in to account before any final decisions are made.”
*SAVE the Alex campaigners are urging residents to start sending back their completed petitions.
Sheets should be sent to the Standard as soon as possible to ensure they are included in the final total, which currently stands at almost 48,000.
Neal Stote said: “It’s great to see so much support for the petition but we believe there are many more signatures out there which we are keen to ensure are counted.
“It’s really important the Trust sees the full extent of support for the Save the Alex campaign and no-one who has put pen to paper to support the campaign goes unnoticed.”
Sheets can be sent back to Harriet Ernstsons, Redditch Standard, Webb House, Church Green East, B98 8BP or dropped in to reception at the Bromsgrove Standard office on 44, High Street.
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