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Hundreds march through Shipston to demand town’s new hospital has in-patients beds

ABOUT 650 people turned out in pouring rain in Shipston on Saturday morning (5th August) to protest over the loss of beds from the town’s Ellen Badger Hospital.

Given the weather, and the fact that many people would have been away on holiday, the organisers were delighted by the number of protesters who went to the trouble of publicly venting their anger at the rebuilding of the hospital without any community beds.

Around 100 of the campaigners wore paper badger masks as a way of highlighting the focus of their demonstration, but these got soaked by the rain.

Stratford district councillor Dave Passingham (Green, Shipston South) told the Herald afterwards: “It was a good crowd, which is amazing because it was a wet Saturday morning and a lot of people will have been on holiday.

“The good turnout shows the passion people have for the Ellen Badger Hospital, and the need they feel there is for a local community hospital.”

Cllr Manuela Perteghella, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Stratford, who took part in the march from the White Bear to the Ellen Badger site and back again, said: “It was great to see such a strong community spirit in Shipston, with a huge turnout to the march in protest at the recommendation to relocate the local in-patient beds to Leamington.”

A review of community beds in south Warwickshire has seen the NHS decide to leave Shipston’s hospital without any beds, despite spending millions on the rebuild.

South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) has defended its review, saying the beds are needed more in the Leamington area and highlighted that the overall number of beds will increase, from 35 to 41.

Nineteen beds will remain at Stratford Hospital while Leamington Hospital will get the rest.

The trust says its overall strategy will also allow more people to be cared for at home.

However, campaigners have questioned how that can happen with current staffing levels, what services will the NHS will provide for the people of Shipston when the new building is finished, and they have questioned whether the Ellen Badger will still be a hospital it can no longer offer beds to patients.

At one stage, the old Ellen Badger Hospital had 16 community beds.

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