NHS campaigners to march through Hull over cuts
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save services at the region's main hospitals are planning a march through Hull city centre to demonstrate the level of their concerns.
The Save Our NHS Hull and East Yorkshire group is speaking out against the £99 million cuts at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham.
The efficiency savings have to be made by 2018 and include ward closures and bed losses.
The march, organised for Saturday, September 22, aims to show the strength of feeling among the public and the group hopes hundreds of people will turn out.
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Group secretary Dermot Rathbone, 44, of Kirk Ella, who suffers from a degenerative brain condition called cerebellar ataxia, said: "We want our elected members to take on board the feelings of the public.
"The response has been fantastic but we need people to show how they feel.
"It's about getting the voices heard in the community and we want to hold people to account on why this is happening."
The group, which held a rally against the cuts in the city centre in July, has also launched a petition, with more than 1,000 signatures collected so far.
They have held street stalls in Hessle, Anlaby and Newland Avenue, west Hull.
Their concerns follow the recent closure of ward six, a specialist cardiac ward at Castle Hill Hospital, and other planned cutbacks.
Group members want people to lobby their MPs to ask for a rebate of the money, as they believe the cuts are "too severe" and not in line with the rest of the country.
Co-chairman Danny Marten, 25, who has recently undergone successful treatment for testicular cancer, said: "It's a 'people power' campaign.
"Saving £99 million with the health inequalities we have in Hull is not sustainable.
"I'm not sure the majority of patients understand how the cuts will affect them.
"The health service they see today will not be here in the future.
"These cuts are too deep. Everybody is a patient of the NHS but some haven't checked in yet."
John Barber, chief financial officer at Hull And East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals, said the latest financial plan means £24 million has to be saved this year and again next year, and £99 million will be saved in total by 2018.
He said: "The general direction is the NHS is going to have to make bigger savings and it's getting harder.
"It's a really daunting challenge and we have to do things differently.
"We are going to have to reduce the number of beds and staff we have.
"That is unavoidable in the context of that level of savings."
Anyone who would like to join the march is asked to meet in Queen Victoria Square, city centre, just before noon on September 22.