HUNDREDS of people have stood up for their local health service by backing the Gazette’s ‘Hands off our Hospital’ campaign.
More than 500 people have already responded to the rallying cry to safeguard Westmorland General Hospital services, after a pair of consultants raised fears some could be moved from the site or out of NHS control.
“I’m delighted that the local community are so supportive of the hospital in Kendal and have got behind the campaign,” said one of the consultants, who asked to remain anonymous.
“I hope this will make the managers listen and realise how much strong feeling there is about keeping services safe.”
The campaign was launched last week after he and a colleague revealed they had been briefed on potential changes to the Kendal site.
They said at a meeting with Jackie Daniel, chief executive of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, they were told services could be moved elsewhere, with the Royal Lancaster Infirmary in line for £150m of investment and Furness General Hospital another £15m.
They were also told the site could be ‘gifted’ to a ‘social enterprise’.
And last week Dr Hugh Reeve, chair of the Cumbria CCG, was unable to give ‘categorical assurances’ that existing services will be maintained at WGH.
On Thursday the Gazette launched its ‘Hands off our Hospital’ campaign - and within days received mail bags bulging with hundreds of signed coupons.
"It's fantastic that so many people have signed the ‘Hands off our Hospital’ petition,” said Kendal town councillor Matt Severn, who has previously campaigned on health isues in the area.
“It sends a really strong message from our community that this is our hospital and we don’t want it going anywhere else.
“We need to keep up the positive campaigning and keep giving our message to the health bosses.”
The campaign has gathered support from MPs, councillors, unions and members of the public.
It mirrors a campaign run by South Lakes MP Tim Farron, whose petition has now gathered around 3,500 signatures. “It shows how much people care and love our local hospital,” he said. And it prompted Silverdale resident, Jim Allison, 73, to launch his own petition online.
“The more signatures we can send to hospital bosses, the better,” he said. “We can’t do without the hospital.”
Ms Daniel’s proposal was made as part of the Better Care Together programme, which is being led by the trust and the Cumbria and North Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups, to create a long-term plan for healthcare around Morecambe Bay.
But this week a poll on the Gazette website asked readers if they were ‘confident about the long-term future’ of WGH - and 86 per cent of people said they were not.
“It is important Better Care Together listen to the hundreds of voices calling for services at Westmorland General to be protected,” said Furness MP John Woodcock.
And former patient and Grange-over-Sands resident, Nancy Bradshaw, 71, added: “I hope the bosses at the hospital will listen to what we’re saying.”
Mr Allison’s petition can be signed at epetitions.direct. gov.uk/petitions/63802
You can voice your support for The Westmorland Gazette's campaign by printing off and signing the form at the top of this page.
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