Save casualty rally

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UNION members will demonstrate over fears for Wigan’s A and E services,

The future of one or more of Greater Manchester’s NHS accident and emergency Units is potentially under threat as part of the Healthier Tougher review of how NHS care will be delivered.

Now Wigan and Leigh Save Our NHS / Keep Our NHS Public have joined forces with Wigan Trades Council to stage a rally at Wigan Town Hall next Saturday (November 10).

Health service campaigners across the borough said today that they believe that the best way to fight the closure threat to A and E services – the official consultation is due to start next spring – was to “unite together” across the county to demand that there are no closures of any of the units across the conurbation.

They are already planning to leaflet shoppers outside The Grand Arcade this Saturday (November 3) and continue collecting signatures for the Greater Manchester wide petition against any closure.

If 100,000 people sign it will automatically trigger a Parliamentary debate.

However they hope the rally and meeting, in the council chamber, between 11am and 3pm, will “kick start” the next phase in the fight to make sure Wigan isn’t regarded as a potential “soft option.”

A spokesman said: “In what even a Tory paper such as the ‘Mail on Sunday’ has said will result in ‘Beeching-style’ closures of major casualty units, this review is likely to leave millions with huge journeys for emergency care, including hundred of thousands in the Greater Manchester area..

“The Government claim the switch to bigger and fewer A and Es will improve patient care by focusing emergency treatment in high-tech ‘centres of excellence’.

“But the real purpose of the ‘slash and burn’ approach,– as it was described by one top hospital consultant, is to save money because the Government are forcing the NHS to cut £20bn from it’s budget by 2015.

“These cuts are to take place despite promises by the Conservatives in their General election manifesto to increase spending on the NHS in real terms year on year.

“If we are unsuccessful in that fight, then it is inevitable that the axe will fall where there is the least resistance.

“This meeting will hopefully help kick start the next phase in the fight in the Wigan area and to make sure the we are not that weak spot.”

Health boss quells fears that NHS shake-up plan could lead to closure of Wigan Infirmary

But Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust’s (WWL) chief executive, Andrew Foster, says that a review of health services across the county will NOT see Wigan Infirmary close.

WWL says it is aware of and participating in the review of health care Healthier Together and the Greater Manchester report The Case for Change which is looking at all acute hospitals across Greater Manchester.

The trust says at this stage, NHS Greater Manchester has not put forward any definitive plans and the options for change are expected to be announced in spring after consultation. Mr Foster said: “It is about anticipating what we need to do with neighbouring trusts to ensure that all three hospitals are providing care.“