Protest urges one last fight

Story in Yorkshire Post 16th January 2008 By Simon Bristow HEALTH campaigners are urging supporters to mount "one last fight" to safeguard services at Bridlington Hospital.

The Save Bridlington Hospital Campaign Action Group is launching a petition this week aimed at thwarting proposed changes to services at the hospital, which they claim would put lives at risk.

The board of the cash-strapped Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, is formulating detailed plans to move acute medical services and the cardiac monitoring unit (CMU) to Scarborough.

But with the board not expected to finalise plans until April, opponents say there is still time to reverse the decision.

Campaign chairman Mick Pilling said: "These services are the lifeline of Bridlington and we feel by moving them through cost-cutting measures it would be devastating for the town.

"We don't want people to be travelling 20 or 40 miles to hospital if they've had a heart attack and need lifesaving drugs. People who have been taken to Bridlington believe their lives have been saved. We want people to stand up and have one last fight.

"If they take these services away they will be taking the meat out and just leaving us with the gravy, and then they might as well just knock Bridlington Hospital down."

Signatures will be gathered for two months before the petition is delivered to Downing Street.

In total, the proposals would see the loss of 36 beds at Bridlington.

The trust is attempting to make £2m of savings as part of plans to "reconfigure" services in Bridlington and Scarborough.

It has been working on a detailed costing of the scheme since December.

But after a meeting with the trust that month, Yorkshire Ambulance Service said the cost of providing cover to transport Bridlington patients to Scarborough would be at least £1m. Unions described this as "ludicrous" given the savings the trust was trying to make.

Last September, the trust shelved plans to cut 600 jobs when the Strategic Health Authority agreed to suspend a debt repayment of £20.7m.

Mr Pilling is hoping for a similar reaction for his la test petition to the announcement on job cuts, when 16,000 signatures from people opposing the cuts were gathered in just one day.

He is also encouraged by a rally in October, when more than 2,000 people marched through the resort in protest at cuts.

His call for action comes as the trust admitted it was forced to briefly close the CMU on Friday last week because of staff shortages. It reopened that evening

A spokeswoman said: "Unfortunately we did have to close the unit temporarily on Friday afternoon due to a shortage of staff.

"Under these circumstances it is safest to bring patients direct to the Coronary Care Unit in Scarborough, where they can receive specialist treatment immediately upon their arrival."  For a copy of the petition send a stamped addressed envelope to: Mick Pilling, 12, New Pasture Close, Bridlington, YO16 7NT, or E-mail: [email protected]