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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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More than 1,000 on the march to save Millom hospital

MORE than 1,000 members of a community marched outside their hospital to show how hard they will fight for its future.

An estimated 1,500 people from Millom protested the temporary closure of the inpatient ward at Millom Community Hospital, in Lapstone Road, at a rally last night.

It was organised amid fears the hospital will close permanently – despite the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust insisting there no plans to shut the facility.

The “Save Millom Community Hospital” Facebook group was established on April 24 by Jenny Brumby, 42, of Millom.

Plans for the march were hatched on Sunday to coincide with the last inpatient leaving the building. No new patients have been admitted since April.

Mrs Brumby said: “We’re going to show the government we’re not happy. We pay more taxes now than ever, but have less than we ever did.

“We’re not going to stop campaigning until the doors are open and patients are in those wards.

“Hopefully we’ll inspire other communities in similar situations to come together and show their voice as one.”

Many of those protesting, both children and adults, wore yellow, a decision made by key members of the group, to represent courage, intelligence and the ability to act quickly.

Despite poor weather, hordes of people flocked to the march, including Wayne Ruddy, 42, of Millom, another core member of the protest group.

He said: “Millomites are a rare breed. Other towns would pay fortunes for our spirit, but it’s something money can’t buy. We won’t let Millom Hospital be written into the history books. The rain may dampen our clothes, but it won’t dampen our spirits.”

Copeland Borough Council leader Elaine Woodburn attended the march to show her support for people in the town.

She said: “I think it’s fantastic and shows real strength of feeling for services these people need.

“These are people whose dads, granddads and other relatives have been to this hospital, so it’s really important to them.

“I will stand and fight with them.”

Many Millom town councillors also attended the march. They released a joint statement.

The town council said: “Millom Town Council is supporting the Save Millom Community Hospital Campaign March.

“Millom councillors will actively continue to seek clarity on the future of Millom Hospital.

“The community’s questions need to be answered by the trust in order re-establish the confidence of Millom people.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed has stood behind the community in Millom in their fight to help their community hospital survive.

He wrote, in a letter to the partnership trust: “Amid a national atmosphere of cuts, hospital closures and service reconfigurations, even a temporary move to stop admissions without a full and frank dialogue with the public was always going to give rise to suspicions of the trust having a ‘hidden agenda’.”

Mr Reed goes on to say there is urgent need for a public meeting in Millom, in which the partnership trust can answer the community’s questions directly.

He said that he wants the meeting to take place in the next two weeks, and is awaiting a suitable date from the Partnership Trust.

The march left the hospital at 6pm and travelled around the town centre before ending at Millom Park.

The trust issued a statement earlier this week in which it again denied any plans to close the hospital.

It said: “Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Cumbria Commissioning Group have consistently said there are no plans to close the hospital and this remains the case.

“We have explained that we do currently have issues with the GP medical cover for the inpatient unit. The situation has been hampered by problems recruiting to the Waterloo House GP practice. This cover cannot be provided by our nursing staff. These issues are being rectified; we are working with our commissioners and the local GP surgery to find a solution as a matter of urgency.

“We understand the passion of the people of Millom however we cannot be more clear in our message and urge the community to listen to us rather than rumours and speculation: There are NO plans to close the hospital.”

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