One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Campaign To Save Services At Darlington Hospital
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman's backing calls by people in the town to stop the downgrading of services at Darlington Memorial Hospital.
It's thought services including accident & emergency, maternity and intensive care could all be moved elsewhere.
A pre-consultation's currently underway at the moment, with the official one commencing in November.
Darlington's MP Jenny Chapman's calling on people living in Darlington and beyond, to let the County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust know what they think of the plans.
A petition's been set up to gather support.
Jenny's been speaking to Heart's Anna Harding.
"We the undersigned are opposed to the downgrading of services provided by Darlington Memorial Hospital.
With a population of more than 106,000 people, Darlington and surrounding areas would be greatly affected by any downgrade in services. County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust are preparing to consult on plans to downgrade A&E, maternity and other vital care units.
By signing our petition you will be helping to bring this matter to the attention of the wider public and media, protect services for local residents, and to send a message to County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
Please Help us Save Our Services at Darlington Memorial Hospital!"
There's also a Save Our Services at Darlington Memorial Hospital Facebook page .
County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust say
In response, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust sent us the following statement.
"As an NHS organisation we cannot stand still - advances in medical science, technology and the specialist skills of NHS professionals have made huge contributions to improved survival rates, outcomes and quality of life over the past few decades.
If we want to be able to continue driving improvements and delivering high quality, sustainable services which meet the needs and expectations of our patients now and into the future against a backdrop of pressures in recruiting specialist staff, delivering quality and access standards and within financial constraints then we need to consider ways in which care and services could be delivered differently.
Senior consultants from the Trust are working with colleagues from across all the hospitals in Durham, Darlington and Teesside together with GPs on a programme of work which is about how we can improve outcomes and experience for patients when they need care, especially in an emergency.
This programme of work is called The Better Health programme and is aimed at identifying how we could improve clinical outcomes for the populations that we all serve.
However, no decisions have been made and importantly the next stage of engagement work with public, patients and staff has just begun allowing everyone to have their say. The series of engagement events will feed into a formal public consultation later in the year.”
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