Thousands of people added their voice to a petition over the weekend to save Burton’s Queen’s Hospital’s A&E department from a potential downgrade. Shoppers in Coopers Square shopping centre put pen to paper after being greeted by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, Staffordshire county councillor Conor Wileman and numerous other councillors and members of the community.
They were hosting a stall in the heart of Burton to urge people to sign the petition and to answer the questions from the public about the Sustainability and Transformation Plan, which pledges to make one of the A&E units from either Burton, Stoke or Stafford an urgent care unit.
The proposals have been drawn up by a county-wide review board which is looking into how money can be saved on Staffordshire’s health bill, while making treatment more efficient.
Councillor Wileman, who was joined by others including Deputy Mayor for East Staffordshire Simon Gaskin and East Staffordshire borough councillor Duncan Goodfellow, called the event a ‘resounding success.’
The 25-year-old spent hours at the venue, where he heard the stories of many who used the department. He said: “I have been a Burton resident all my life and know the importance of having the A&E on your doorstep. I gave my support to Andrew and the other volunteers in the hope of getting as many signatures as possible for the petition, so we can send a strong message to those making the final decisions. This is something I feel extremely strongly about and it was quite clear to me what the public perception of the potential downgrade would be. People are horrified by the plans. Everyone in Burton has been affected at one time or other by a health scare or an emergency, whether it is personal or a family member in need of care. We need this incredible service on our doorstep. It is really important.”
Councillor Wileman said that everyone promoting or signing the petition were all ‘united in one cause.’ He said: “We are so thankful to gain the support from residents in our fight and I know that the Burton Mail has also been instrumental in bringing people together from Burton, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire and spreading the word about the plans. I think people were happy to see us there and were pleased that Burton is going to have a voice. It was amazing to hear all the stories about the many times Burton A&E has saved lives.”
Councillor Wileman said the petition gained ‘thousands of signatures’ on Saturday. He added: “Hopefully the campaign is successful. The petition is going well but we must not rest on our laurels because our A&E is at stake.”
Burton MP Andrew Griffiths said he was surprised by how keen people were to sign the petition. He said: “There were queues of people waiting to add their signature to the petition and I was overwhelmingly surprised by the amount of people who wanted to engage with the campaign. I was really encouraged by the response and it was clear to see that the staff at the A&E department are held in high esteem by the people they help. We heard story on story about the lives that were saved there and it was clear from anecdotal evidence alone that this unit must remain open.”
(Story credited to Ms Rhea Turner of the Burton Mail)