Health campaigners are staging a day of action on Saturday to demand a better deal for the overstretched Milton Keynes hospital and local NHS staff.
They are planning a demonstration outside the hospital to demand investment and growth instead of uncertainty.
Organisers from the Save Milton Keynes Hospital group want to see the scrapping of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan, which looks at merging services in Bedford, Luton and MK.
Instead they want the millions of pounds spent on the STP review process to be invested directly into patient care.
Kevin Vickers from Save Milton Keynes Hospital said: “We are launching a unified campaign with Bedford and the Luton & Dunstable Hospitals . All three hospitals require investment and growth, not uncertainty, underfunding and an undermining of staff morale.”
He added: “The action has been planned to demonstrate support of the NHS and health workers following reports of the NHS in meltdown and crisis, with operations cancelled, ambulances queuing outside hospitals, long waits in Accident and Emergency and reports of people dying because of lack of ambulances and beds.
Local nurse Christina Sosseh put out a poignant video plea for people to support the protest, which assembles at 12 noon outside Netherfield shops. They are invited to bring banners and placards.
Christina described how hospital beds are being cut. She also said there were are 40,000 nurse vacancies nationally because the government had cut nurses’ bursuries.
Vincent Charles from UNISON in Luton said: “The NHS is facing an unprecedented attack through a programme of cuts, closures and privatisation. Staff morale is at rock bottom and there is a crisis of retention and recruitment of nurses. Coupled with the cuts in local authority funding and the sustained attack on social care, the most vulnerable in society – elderly people, disabled people, people with learning difficulties and people with mental health problems are bearing the brunt of the cuts.”
Rosie Newbigging of Hands off Bedford Hospital said: “The NHS is facing yet another humanitarian disaster with people being forced to sleep on the floor in corridors. This is a shocking state for the NHS to be in. The NHS has been systematically starved of money in the last 7 years and massive and urgent investment is required. The uncertainty around the future of core services at the 3 hospitals needs to stop. The communities which the 3 hospitals serve have growing populations, a big increase in the numbers of elderly people and significant health inequalities.”