Thousands march through Telford against night-time A&E closure - report and gallery
Thousands of people marched through the streets of Telford calling for an end to plans for an overnight closure of the town's A&E.
More than 2,000 people joined the protest on Sunday demanding a re-think over Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust's agreement for a temporary overnight closure of the A&E at Princess Royal Hospital.
From just a few months old to pensioners, people of all ages joined the march as it made its way from Wellington Community Clock to the Charlton School playing fields where speeches from campaigners were met with cheers of support.
Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies was joined by the leader of Wolverhampton Council, Roger Lawrence, in warning of the potential impacts of the planned closure – which would mean patients needing urgent attention would have to travel to Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton or Stoke.
'Fight and fight again'
Councillor Davies said: "3,000 people have turned out today, 30,000 people have signed the petition calling for a government backed rescue plan and we will not stand idle, we will continue to fight for what is right and that is an A&E in Telford & Wrekin.
"Wolverhampton, Dudley, Shropshire, Mid Wales, all coming together united in a cause because it could easily be Shrewsbury, or Wolverhampton, or Birmingham and it is important we stay united on this cause.
"There would be over 80 children per month diverted away from a hospital that is just metres from here, to Wolverhampton, or Stoke.
"Easily any one of those children could be from my family. I won't accept it for my family and I won't accept it for your family or for any family living in this community.
"We must fight and fight again to stop this closure taking place."
Councillor Lawrence said there could be 300 extra attendances a month at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton if the closure, set to come into force in December, is approved.
He said: "There is no arrangement on how these people can be brought back.
"There has been no consultation, no explanation of how the ambulances will work during this period.
"That is not good enough."
When the decision was made last month SaTH said it had to be taken due to staff shortages, with major gaps in consultants and middle-grade doctors.
'It must be political'
Gill George, chairman of Shropshire Defend our NHS, also spoke at the rally, where she said pressure must be brought to bear on the people who can provide the help needed to avoid the closure.
She said: "There is another strand to the solution and part of it must be political.
"I do not mean party political, I mean political because the government has the power to sort this out.
"Because the secretary of state for health could pick up the telephone and get this sorted in five minutes if he wanted to."
She added: "We have to fight to defend decent health care, not just in Telford, but across Shropshire and Powys as well because this is a fight for all of us.
"Unless we stop it the A&E at PRH will close overnight from December onwards. If it closes will it ever open again? Almost certainly not."
The temporary closure comes against the background of the Future Fit review of the county's emergency hospitals.
That review has recommended a preferred option which would see the county's only A&E based at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, and women & children's services also moved to the county town, from Telford.
SaTH has outlined what it would need to maintain the overnight A&E service at PRH, saying it could remain open in the short-term if it had a minimum of seven additional level middle grade doctors, increasing staffing from 11 to 18.
The hospitals would also need a minimum of 15 more registered A&E nurses.
Reporter Dominic Robertson was at the march: