HEALTH campaigners have issued a rallying call to residents from Hartlepool and the surrounding areas to get behind a show of support for local hospital services later this month.

Speakers from the region and further afield will gather at Hartlepool’s War Memorial, off Victoria Road, on Saturday, October 15 to explain how recently-released Sustainability & Transformation Plans will impact on local people.

The event, Emergency Call 4 NHS, has been organised by the Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital group which has vociferously slammed moves from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust which have resulted in key services being stripped from the town’s hospital.

The latest protest comes in response to various statements from local health trusts and Care Commissioning Groups as well as NHS England which have pointed at changes to the way healthcare is to be delivered moving forward.

Speakers who have agreed to voice their opinions on the day include Peter Stefanovic, a London Lawyer and regular NHS campaigner, and Kishan Rees, who is a Junior Doctor based in Lincoln County Hospital who has previously spoken out about break-up and privatisation of the NHS.

Kishan, who will stream the event live through the internet, will be joined by Bob Gill, a GP and NHS campaigner currently in the process of filming a documentary in the privatisation of the NHS, and Jo Adams who is the founder of 999 Call for the NHS.

Mary Cartwright – The Mayor of Peterlee and Barry Chambers, from the Durham Miners’ Association will also be speaking. It is hoped other campaigners from across the UK could be joined by various Hartlepool councillors – though at the time of this release many had indicated they would be unable to attend.

Glen Hughes, Deputy Chair of the Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital Group, said: “The rally holds great strength behind the speakers who have given up their time, but it means nothing if the people of Hartlepool and surrounding areas don't get out and support it.”

“The idea came about as all these plans were being put in place behind closed doors without consultation to the public, and people needed to know about it. NHS England’s current proposals are the biggest shake up of the NHS ever, but it’s frightening how little people know, it especially here in Hartlepool.

“That is why we feel it so important to hold this rally to get people talking about what is happening to their NHS.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us as current services – especially for A&E – are inadequate but these proposals could make things even more dangerous if we are left with the only option of travelling to James Cook in Middlesbrough instead of North Tees for A&E provision.”

The event will take place from 12pm-2pm, and organisers have stressed that the rally will be a peaceful affair given the location.

Glen added: “We are asking for a show of support from the people of Hartlepool and the surrounding area, and this is a real opportunity to highlight the feelings about our NHS and how we want to protect it.

“We will be asking people to be respectful given the location of the rally, but encourage everyone to bring their placards and banners along to show the people in power the strength of feeling in this area.”