June 24, 2008
Protest Rally Spotlights Hospital Care
By JESSICA WILLIAMS
Bereaved family and friends have staged a protest at a hospital to demand improvements in cleanliness and care.
The Cure the NHS group held a candlelit vigil at Stafford General Hospital on Saturday in memory of their loved ones who lost their life there.
The group is made up of around 150 people who believe their friends and relatives' deaths were brought on by poor hospital standards.
Around 30 members met at the hospital gates at 2pm in a bid to force the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to take action.
Julie Bailey, pictured below, who set up the group last December, said: "This is a friendly protest by people who have all lost friends and relatives in tragic circumstances.
"We want better care at this hospital and we want new management. We also want to support staff who we believe are being stretched to the limits."
Ms Bailey, of Main Road, Milford, Stafford, set up the group in memory of her mother Bella Bailey, who died at the hospital, aged 86, four days after being admitted with a hernia.
Ms Bailey said she had since been inundated with letters complaining about standards.
She said: "The hospital was like a death camp. There were people left lying in pain for up to five hours. The patients were not being fed or given any fluids."
June and Derek Locke, of Matthews Road, Stafford, attended the protest in memory of their daughter Jane, who was admitted to the hospital with bowel cancer two years ago and died three months later. The couple have since found out she was suffering from C. difficile, MRSA and E. coli.
Mrs Locke, aged 69, said: "At Jane's inquest, the coroner promised something would be done to improve standards at the hospital. But we are still waiting. The longer this goes on, the more people's lives are put in danger."
Gillian Peacham, of Clay Street, Penkridge, said she was protesting in memory of her husband Arthur, who was admitted to the hospital two years ago with a bad back.
The 68-year-old said: "He caught C. difficile and two months later he was dead.
"The hospital was filthy. It was the most horrific place my family had ever witnessed."
Martin Yeates, chief executive of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said the trust was co-operating with an investigation by the Healthcare Commission, but the hospital had opposed Saturday's protest as it was felt it would be intimidating to patients, visitors and staff.
He added that Staffordshire Police had met protesters on Wednesday to discuss their plans. He also said the trust had requested meetings with the group on several occasions but had been refused.
He said: "Our prime responsibility is to provide health care, including emergency services to the local community.
"We must ensure our hospital is accessible and in particular that the A&E department is available to the public, ambulances and the air ambulance. Any event where a number of people gather poses health, safety and security issues which should be avoided.
"We also have a duty to protect visitors and our staff. People standing outside our hospital entrance giving out leaflets we feel would be intimidating to our patients and visitors, who are often anxious because they are either ill themselves or have sick relatives. Our staff are very hardworking and should be allowed to arrive and leave work without feeling threatened or demoralised.
"It has been recommended to this group that they should engage with the trust by our local MP, David Kidney, the Primary Care Trust, a representative of general practitioners and the police, among others."
(c) 2008 Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.