‘Save our beds’ was the rallying cry in Matlock on Saturday morning as hundreds marched against cutbacks at the town’s Whitworth Hospital.
The march - which was organised by the Matlock Hospitals League of Friends - was to protest against the closure of 24 community rehabilitation beds at the hospital’s Oker Ward.
The march’s organisers had also collected an 8,000 signature petition opposing the plan and, after leading the 250 strong protest from the centre of Matlock to the hospital itself, presented it to the health bosses who will take the final decision later this year.
League of Friends committee member, Helen Griffiths, said: “Ultimately, we don’t think the proposal to close the Oker Ward is an efficient use of NHS resources.
“Less than three years ago £1 million was spent completely refurbishing it but these proposals would mean the CCG would have to spend another £1.3 million to move the beds to Chesterfield Royal.
“Also, if Newholme goes as well that will mean there won’t be any rehab beds in this area for a population of over 70,000.
“I fully accept that something needs to be done in the NHS so I am not criticising all the proposals but it is the specific proposal to close the Oker ward that I am against.
Speaking just before the march set off from Matlock, Helen was full of praise for everybody who had turned out to support them.
“It has been overwhelming the response that we have received - when there is an important issue at stake, the community springs into action.
“The weather has been on our side and clearly judging by the number of people here today we have got the vast majority of public opinion on our side as well.”
After receiving the petition from the protestors, Steve Allinson, chief officer with the North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We acknowledge that a petition with 8,177 signatures is a very significant response from the public in this area.
“I can assure everyone that the petition will form a crucial part of our thinking when we determine what will happen next.”
More on this story will follow in next week’s Matlock Mercury.