A MASS march of people is expected to voice its opinion against the transfer of services from Heatherwood Hospital tomorrow (Saturday).
The Save Heatherwood Hospital (SHH) campaign group is planning for a big attendance at its public event from 11.30am at car park 6 on Ascot High Street - near the Jaguar garage.
The marchers will carry a banner that refers to the fact more than 20,000 people signed a petition against the transfer of services from Heatherwood, as they walk along London Road, to the hospital.
The umbrella group of organisations opposed to changes in health services in East Berkshire have vowed to fight on, despite the East Berkshire Primary Care Trust's decision to approve all the recommendations contained in Shaping The Future, a consultation document on the changes. The march, which will be followed by a 'cavalcade' is part of the continuing campaign to maintain Heatherwood and its services, protestors say, branding the decision as illegitimate and the public consultation a sham.
Spike Humphrey from the Save Heatherwood Hospital group said: "As the PCT has now been disbanded, the three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in East Berkshire have inherited responsibility for implementing the cuts to Heatherwood, recommended under Shaping the Future.
They say they intend to work closely with the public to understand how these decisions impact them and that they are in 'listening-mode' and want to hear our thoughts, views and concerns about implementing Shaping the Future. We will certainly want to engage with the CCGs on this - and we would encourage everyone to do the same thing.
"If the CCGs are willing to be more open-minded, that will be good news for all concerned. In parallel to this, we need to make sure the public voice continues to be heard. So the march and cavalcade are an opportunity for all to show their support."
After marchers arrive at the hospital on Saturday, a 'cavalcade' of vehicles will make their way to the Bracknell Clinic at Brants Bridge, site of the proposed Urgent Care Centre, where Heatherwood's minor injuries unit will move to.
Protesters aim to use the experience to highlight potential transport issues in accessing Brants Bridge, which they say are a "major concern." The march comes at a time when more than 2,500 have signed a new petition on the Royal Borough's website, which has also resolved to continue the fight against the service changes.
The council is also organising a special meeting on Thursday, May 9, at 7.30pm in The Pavilion at Ascot Racecourse.
In addition to the loss of minor injuries, Heatherwood will lose its rehabilitation ward, with more beds at Wexham Park in Slough plus services in the community.
The maternity-led birth centre will be permanently closed.