Michael Fabricant says that Saturday’s march (Saturday 11th August) starting at noon from St Michael’s Hospital, Trent Valley Road, Lichfield to the Victoria Hospital in Lichfield could be "make or break" for hospital services in South Staffordshire.
"Tony Blair has written to me to say that if the local health authority come to conclusions that are clearly at variance with the wishes of local people, he will call in their decision and have it investigated by Government Ministers", says Michael Fabricant. "This march will demonstrate that locals wish to keep all the services currently available in Lichfield, in Lichfield in the future. And this goes for day surgery, endoscopy, the provision of sufficient beds to meet existing needs of Lichfield and Burntwood residents, and the continuation of our maternity unit. And I also urge residents from Barton under Needwood as well as from Burntwood to participate as their hospitals have been earmarked for closure by the South Staffordshire Health Authority.
"We should be clear that the changes suggested by the authority are driven by the need to save £1 million a year from their budget and while we would all welcome a new hospital in Lichfield, it has to provide at least the same services we currently enjoy and be accessible to patients. I remain to be convinced that the St Michael’s site is more suitable for a new hospital than the Victoria Hospital site.
"Meanwhile, while local people must continue to keep up the pressure on the health authority, I will continue to press the Government on local funding. Tony Blair has admitted to me that the South Staffordshire Health Authority has a shortfall of funding of ‘almost £5 million’ annually based on what the Government has calculated they are due to receive. We cannot expect the authority to provide adequate services if the Government continues to withhold funds that are due".