A SKELETON, a stiltwalker and a makeshift coffin will join a colourful protest march and rally to save the closure threatened Accident and Emergency Department at the historic birthplace of the NHS.There will also be balloons, dozens of home-made placards, music and kazoos, and specially baked birthday cakes to celebrate the 64th birthday of Trafford General, where Health Minister Nye Bevan inaugurated Britain's first NHS hospital in 1948.
But the birthday celebrations may be shortlived - health bosses want to close the hospital's A&E unit and ICU unit, stop all children's services and end acute surgery - changes which have been branded "a death sentence for the birthplace of the NHS."
Hundreds of people are expected to join today's protest march, which starts at 12noon from Golden Hill Park in Urmston, Manchester and will go past the hospital.
Campaign co-ordinator Jo Harding said: "We hope it will be a real family day, with mums and dads, children and grandparents making their voices heard in support of their local hospital."
Campaign chair Matthew Finnegan added: "If these changes go-ahead it will put patients lives at risk and be a death sentence for the birthplace of the NHS."
More than 6,000 people have already signed a protest petition against the closure of A&E and organisers are hopeful that the demonstration will be the biggest public protest ever seen in Trafford.
Campaigners are demanding a referendum on the future of A&E and other services at Trafford General - and are encouraging protesters to show hundreds of red cards to the Trust at the end of the rally.