Campaigners hand over petition to Gloucestershire NHS chiefs
CAMPAIGNERS desperate for community health services to stay in the NHS have handed over a petition to health chiefs.
A group attended a meeting yesterday as they called for a standalone NHS trust to be set up to run services, including nine community hospitals and district nursing. They fear NHS Gloucestershire could put the running out to tender, opening the door to private companies.
Around 5,450 people had signed the petition, which was handed to the health body's board by Second World War RAF veteran Claude Mickleson.
The 89-year-old had gone around the county explaining the situation to residents, using booklets written by NHS Gloucestershire. "We handed these out to people and explained what it was all about. I know it was advertised and in the newspapers, however not many people knew about it," he said.
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Ruth FitzJohn, chairman of NHS Gloucestershire, received petition.
"We have an extraordinary board meeting on October 15 to discuss and decide on the future of care services," she said.
"Through the public engagement exercise we have been out to hundreds of different settings and venues and thousands of people have come along to express their view. It's still continuing until October 3. We are really encouraging people to have their say and this is an important part of that."
Earlier this year, NHS Gloucestershire placed adverts asking groups, which could include private bodies, NHS organisations or those wishing to set up a social enterprise, to show an "expression of interest" in taking the reins of the services, which are currently provided by Gloucestershire Care Services. A total of 63 replies were received, with 24 organisations formally confirming their interest.
Rob Bishop, a member of Cheltenham and Gloucester Against Cuts, turned out with fellow campaigners ahead of the meeting held at Sanger House, in Gloucester Business Park, yesterday.
The 55-year-old, from Bishop's Cleeve, said: "I think we are reaching a critical stage in the consultation process and we want to show the amount of support that's underneath us for keeping our hospitals within the NHS set up. Once we lose the NHS we won't get it back for generations, if ever, so this is crucial."
NHS Gloucestershire's board will make a decision on October 15 at 10am at Sanger House. People wanting to attend are asked to email email@example.com by 9am on October 12.