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A group of campaigners, marching 110 miles between eight hospitals in Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire are heading from Bishop Auckland Hospital to Shotley Bridge Hospital today.
The 999 call for the NHS group have organised a 'Footprints March for the NHS' to protest against what they say are threats to hospital services.
The protests are in reaction to the NHS Better Health Programme consultation.
Public consultation events are being held throughout the week:
- Mon 24 October - Hartlepool, College of Further Education. 6 - 8pm
- Wed 26 October - Hawes, The Fountain Hotel. 5 - 7pm
- Thurs 27 October - Darlington, Morton Oark Training Centre. 6 - 8pm
- Fri 28 October - Thornaby, South Thornaby Community Centre. 10am - 12pm
An NHS spokesperson has stressed that no decisions have yet been made:
“Local people deserve access to 24 hour specialist medical opinion in an emergency situation.
The Better Health Programme is today responding to a series of protest marches being led by 999 Call for the NHS.
The Better Health Programme is about providing care of a consistently high standard, and in the right place at the right time.
Experienced clinical staff from the local NHS - including hospital consultants and GPs - have been looking at how we do this, in discussion with their colleagues, stakeholders and patient representatives.
They believe that people with serious or life threatening needs should be treated in specialist centres with the very best expertise and facilities. This will maximise their chances of survival and a good recovery – even if it means going past the nearest hospital.
A partnership between local NHS clinical commissioning groups and foundation trusts
“We also want to provide more services out of hospital, in local communities, reducing the need for unnecessary travel, delivering more patient focused care closer to home.”
Programme leaders and clinicians have stressed that no decisions have been made, and they are keen to hear the views of patients and the public.
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