Hundreds attend rally to try to save key services at Trafford General Hospital (From Messenger Newspapers)
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Hundreds support Save Trafford General group's rally and march
12:40pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 in News
HUNDREDS of residents joined a march and rally to Save A&E at Trafford General - one of the biggest public demonstrations ever seen in the borough.
Mums and dads joined young children and grandparents for the colourful cavalcade which wound its way through the centre of Urmston to Trafford General - the birthplace of the NHS.
Many brought home-made placards, waved Save A&E balloons, blew whistles and horns and chanted "No ifs, no buts - no A&E cuts" and "What do we want? A&E! When do we want it? Now!".
They also sang 'Happy Birthday' and clapped and cheered as they passed the doors of A&E at the hospital, where Nye Bevan inaugurated the NHS in 1948.
Protesters were also treated to live music at a rally at Golden Hill park before and after the march, with birthday cakes selling out and hundreds of campaign ribbons sold - more than £470 was raised for campaign funds.
In bright summer sunshine, two of the campaign's youngest supporters, eight-year-old Grace and nine-year-old Jessica led the rally in singing "Happy Birthday to Trafford General".
Hundreds of protesters later gave health bosses the red card to support their demand for a referendum on the plans to downgrade the hospital.
Campaigners said the public response had far exceeded their expectations - the march lasted almost an hour longer than planned.
The march was called because of fears that soon-to-be released proposals for Trafford General will include closing the A&E and intensive care units, end acute surgery and cut children's services.
Campaign co-ordinator, Jo Harding: "We were thrilled at the support shown by the community for the campaign to Save Trafford General.
"It was a brilliant day - one I will never forget. It was really heart-warming to see shoppers joining in and people coming out of the shops and their homes to applaud the march with motorists honking their horns in support."
Campaign chairman, Matthew Finnegan added: "It was a very mixed audience, with people of all ages, and all political persuasions and none, uniting behind the Save A&E campaign.
"There were babies in arms and disabled people in wheelchairs all joining together. They sent out a very clear message that they want health bosses to improve, not remove, services at Trafford General.
"Health bosses will ignore the views of local people at their peril."
Campaigners are now urging people to lobby their MPs, local councillors and health bosses with their views and are pledging to step up their campaign as planned public consultation meetings start within the next few weeks.
Health bosses insist changes need to be made to secure the future of the hospital, which is one of the smallest in the country.
A spokesperson for NHS Trafford, said: "The NHS in Trafford and local clinicians are working together to ensure that services can continue to be provided at Trafford General Hospital.”
A proposal will be going out to public consultation and “everyone will have the chance to have their say before any final decisions are made.”