Campaigners fighting changes to maternity and children’s services at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital have issued a call to arms to all families in the district.
A public march and rally across the town is being organised for next month by the Save Our Children's Services Pilgrim Hospital group.
And organisers say they want to see hundreds if not thousands join them on the street for the peaceful protest, which is due to take place on Sunday 23 September.
The campaigners are fighting to get full services restored after a new model was introduced by United Lincolnshire Hospital’s Trust at the beginning of the month which meant any child needing more than 12 hours observation and any expectant mum needing medical attention not yet at 37 weeks will be moved to another hospital.
But the trust stresses it is business as usual and the changes it has put in place will only affect a small number of patients.
Campaigners have been supported in their fight to reinstate services to previous levels by Boston Council, who backed a vote of no confidence in trust chiefs over the changes.
Rachel Bray, one of the organisers of the march, said: “We are still shocked by how many people have no idea we no longer have a children’s ward, and that it is now only an assessment unit.”
She and fellow campaigners Alison Marriot and Emma Wilcock have all had first hand experience of the services which were provided at Pilgrim with their children.
They have been into Boston town centre to spread the message, along with Rachel’s son Oliver, seven, Alison’s baby daughter Sophia, and Emma’s daughter Emma, who is eight.
“Our own children all have their own stories, and are living proof that without the FULL services at Pilgrim hospital, they may not have been here today,” said Rachel.
“We feel that a peaceful, family friendly march is the next step in our campaign, as we need to continue to show that we are serious about wanting the reinstatement of full children’s and maternity services, as that’s what our community and our children deserve.
“We also want to show the amazing staff that we are still fighting for them, and as a thankyou for all that they do for so many.
“It’s a way that families can get involved and show support for the campaign, and we want everyone to join us, from across the county!
“It would be fantastic to hundreds or even thousands attend, these changes affect us all, and we need to stand up for what we believe, especially with the changes also planned for orthopaedics now too, we need as many people there as possible! “
Organisers are currently liaising with the police and highways authority Lincolnshire County Council on the route of the march, and will share full details once it is confirmed.
The plan is that it will go through central Boston sometime in the afternoon and finish in Central Park.
Rachel said: “We would love people to make banners with their children’s hand prints on them, to show why we are walking! Plus it’s a great way to let the children get involved.”
She said that Boston Council have been supportive of our march and helping with the preparation, and she hoped they would be joining them too
ULHT Medical Director Dr Neill Hepburn said: “We would like to reassure our patients and families that for them it really remains business as usual at Pilgrim hospital.
“People should continue to use children’s services as before and each case will be reviewed on merit, with the appropriate care package agreed and provided. The changes we have put in place will only affect a very small number of patients for a limited time only.
“Our advice to all patients: if you or your child is ill to call 111, visit your GP or attend A&E if necessary, where you will be assessed and the appropriate care plan decided upon.
“The Trust apologises for any inconvenience but feels the changes are necessary to provide safe services for all of our families across Lincolnshire.”