Published Date: 09 May 2008
By Simon Bristow YORKSHIRE POST
HEALTH chiefs are being invited to address a Protest-March-Rally aimed at saving services at an East Coast hospital. Bridlington Hospital faces extreme cuts to services
Campaigners are urging "the whole town" to turn out for a rally in Bridlington to protest against plans to close the cardiac monitoring unit (CMU) and two acute medical wards at the resort's hospital.
They want managers at the cash-strapped Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust to explain why the changes are necessary when the march assembles in the town on July 26.
Mick Pilling, chairman of the Save Bridlington Hospital Campaign Action Group, who organised a previous rally last October attended by more than 2,000 people, said: "We are inviting the trust along to speak to the people to tell them what they are doing and why. Last time we invited them they said 'Sorry, can't make it, have a nice march and hope the weather's fine'. Well, less of the sarcasm.
"We are hoping this march will be twice as big as the last one. We want the whole town to turn out and point the finger at the trust saying 'Leave this hospital alone'.
"It's something the people have paid for and it belongs to the town. If they keep removing services at this rate we are going to be left with nothing. We would appeal to everyone to come along and support the march; put your heart and soul into it."
The trust was criticised last month for launching a recruitment drive for financial staff while it allegedly has a shortage of nurses.
Unions say the trust – which has announced plans to save £2m – has been operating a recruitment freeze on frontline staff since November. They also claim staff levels at Bridlington Hospital are "dangerously low".
The union Unite, which is supporting the march, said the combined annual salary for the 12 new posts was more than £350,000 – a figure it has now revised.
Unite's health spokesman Kevin Coyne said the trust was actually looking to fill 17 vacancies as some of the posts advertised were for more than one person. This would potentially increase the combined wage bill to £450,000.
Mr Coyne said: "Unite can't be accused of scare tactics as we originally underestimated the numbers and costs involved in this finance staff recruitment bonanza.
"Hopefully, this new revelation will give local residents an extra spur to turn out in even larger numbers on 26 July, so that the trust's senior managers realise the depth of anger being felt in North East Yorkshire over their plans."
The posts advertised range from head of finance and procurement – salary £60,669 to £75,114 – to payables clerk, worth between £12,577 and £15,523 a year.
The recruitment drive comes after more than 37,000 people signed a petition to Downing Street opposing the shake-up of services at Bridlington.
Unite fears lives will be put at risk if the closures go ahead, with patients facing journeys of 20 miles or more to Scarborough for emergency treatment.
Mr Pilling said he believes the trust is also considering ferrying heart patients to Hull, York or Middlesbrough.
He said: "The trust have got to listen to what we have to say. The march will be eight weeks prior to them pulling the plug. We think it's all about them wanting to save vast amounts of money. We have sent 38,500 signatures to Downing Street to the Heath Secretary and we hope he will intervene."
The march will begin in Bessingby Way Business Park at 10am.
A trust spokeswoman said it was unlikely the trust would be represented at the march.
Mick Pilling Writes:
What's new the Trust and Sir George Alberti can't make it; good at making cuts to services but not at keeping appointments when asked to attend we are told sorry once more......
All the more the town should turn out on the day lets show them how much this hospital means to the town and surrounding areas. We don't want to die in the back of an Ambulance on our way to another hospital whilst suffering a Heart Attack or some other illness! We could end up at Scarborough, York, Hull or even Middlesborough Hospital's.
The March-Protest-Rally will coinside with the Independant Reveue Panel who meet in July 2008 to discuss the future of the Bridlington Hospital's Cardiac Monitoring Unit of 6 Beds & the Acute Medical Service 30 bed ward.
UNITED WE STAND.....LET PEOPLE POWER WIN THE DAY!!