More than 1000 members of the public rallied round the Save Old Trafford A&E protest march back in July – creating one of the biggest demonstrations ever seen in the borough. On the birthday of the NHS, hundreds of placard-waving protesters sang “When I’m 64” as they passed the hospital (opened in 1948 by Nye Bevan) while others chanted “No ifs, no buts, no A&E cuts!”
With several services at the hospital under threat of closure - including the Intensive Care Unit and children’s services - the public’s opposition to the ‘New Health Deal for Trafford’ far exceeded expectations.
Joanne Harding, campaign co-ordinator said: “We were thrilled at the support shown by the local community. It was a brilliant day – one I will never forget. It was truly heart-warming to see people coming out of the shops and their homes to applaud... to see motorists honking their horns.”
Matthew Finnegan, chairman for the Save Trafford General Campaign, told OTN: “It was a very mixed crowd, with people of all ages and all political persuasions uniting together. They sent out a very clear message that they want health bosses to improve, not remove, services at Trafford General.”
But campaigners say the battle is far from over. With planned public consultation meetings in August and September, they are now urging people to lobby their MPs, local councillors and health bosses. Not only that, but three members of the campaign – George Devlin, David Fernandez-Arias and Matthew Finnegan – have announced they are standing for election as governors of the Central Manchester Trust. “We are standing for election to hold Trust bosses to account, to make sure the voice of the people is heard... to help bring greater democracy to the NHS.”
And now, TV presenter and award-winning actor Matthew Kelly has joined the campaign as its official patron. Urmston-born Matthew said: “Local people are rightly proud of Trafford General. It is still very much the hospital for members of my family... it is a very personal issue for me. What is being proposed is very worrying; I will help the campaign in any way I can.” Matthew Finnegan added: “We are grateful to Matthew for his support and commitment - it’s a great boost.”
Public consultation meetings will take place at Altrincham Town Hall (Wednesday the 12th September – 7pm to 9pm) and at Sale Waterside (Thursday the 20th September – 7pm to 9pm). To hear from clinicians about the proposals and to ask any questions you might have, you can book a place by calling 0161 873 6008 or visiting www.healthdeal.trafford.nhs.uk
To find out more about the Campaign to Save Old Trafford General, to register your vote or to make your opinions felt visit: www.savetraffordgeneral.com