Trafford General A&E night closure plan meeting held
Plans to downgrade a Greater Manchester hospital's accident and emergency (A&E) department have been discussed at the first of several planned meetings.
NHS Trafford is proposing closing the unit between midnight and 08:00 at Trafford General Hospital to help cope with a £19m budget shortfall.
It said it had low patient numbers and growing concerns over clinical safety.
Campaigners fear change would put lives at risk. Thepublic meeting was held at Altrincham Town Hall earlier.
A petition against the plans has already attracted 9,000 signatures and 1,000 people met at a campaign group rally last month.
Save Trafford General campaign co-ordinator Jo Harding, who attended the first meeting, said: "There are still far too many unanswered questions for the people of Trafford.
'Best possible care'
"Questions about how other hospitals will cope with the increase in capacity have not been answered, and transport for residents to hospitals further away is a problem."
NHS Trafford said the A&E unit was the smallest in England and low patient numbers meant it could not continue to provide intensive care, emergency surgery and some more serious operations.
Under the plans, the A&E department would close overnight and patients would instead have to go to Salford Royal, Manchester Royal Infirmary or Wythenshawe hospitals.
During the day it would be replaced by an urgent care centre, which would be downgraded to a nursing service for minor illnesses and injuries within three years.
The paediatric unit would also close.
Dr Simon Musgrave, clinical head of division in Trafford for Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "In reality most people will not notice a great deal of difference. Seventy five per cent of what we currently do at the hospital in Trafford will continue to be done there.
"But if we are to ensure that the sickest patients get the best possible care and treatment, we need to look more widely at the facilities and expertise around us in the larger teaching hospitals in central and south Manchester and use these to best effect."
Further public meetings will be held in Urmston, Sale, Old Trafford, Partington, Davyhulme, Stretford and Flixton over the next six weeks.
People wanting to attend are advised to book in advance through the NHS Trafford website.