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8 December 2010

Campaign stops health bosses' closure plan

THIRTY PEOPLE, including midwives, parents, children and Socialist Party members, lobbied a North West NHS board meeting that was expected to rubber-stamp the already deferred decision to close Salford Royal Hospital's maternity services.

Paul Gerrard

A major reorganisation of maternity services in Greater Manchester aims to reduce 12 units down to eight and Salford's unit, probably the best performing unit in the North West, is due to close.

But they had to move the meeting to a larger room as there were more protesters than board members. Protesters Sarah Davies and Sam, a young mother whose baby had been born in the unit, demolished the case for closure.

The CEO had to admit that the reorganisation could not proceed and the final decision is again deferred, this time to February. This is an important, if temporary, victory and testimony to an outstanding local campaign.

Sarah Davies said: "The campaign has so far collected 40,000 signatures on petitions, held a rally which attracted 500 people, gained the support of local celebrities, such as Ryan Giggs whose pre-term baby was cared for at Hope; we have enlisted the support of the council and all local MPs.

"Fighting and having a success, as we have done this week, gives people confidence. Since the decision the mood at the hospital has lifted, and all those people who said 'I don't know what you're bothering to fight it for' have been very quiet!"

We now need to use this respite to lobby local GPs and get them to publicise their opposition to closure, and continue to mobilise opinion in the city through the trades council, the newly formed anti-cuts campaign and the Shop Stewards Network. We can win.

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