More than 350 people packed the Subscription Rooms to discuss plans for a social enterprise company to take over the running of Stroud General Hospital at the meeting hosted by Stroud Town Council.
Mayor John Marjoram told the audience that the town council had decided to host the meeting because of councillors’ concerns that the changes to NHS services were being brought about without our knowledge.
“The town council is wholly behind a full blooded NHS,” said Mayor Marjoram. “We urge people to get involved. With people power we can stop these changes.”
Plans have been agreed by NHS Gloucestershire for Stroud General to be run by Gloucestershire Care Services Community Interest Company, with NHS-funded care, from October 1.
Caroline Molloy, of Stroud Against the Cuts, said there had been no consultation with the public about the changes and that there were fears it was simply a cost-cutting exercise.
There were also concerns raised that staff were not properly consulted and were too concerned for their job to voice their apprehensions.
Penny Harris, chief executive designate of the social enterprise Gloucestershire Care Services Community Interest Company, said that there had not been a public consultation because there would not be changes in the level of services offered.
The changes, she said, were purely organisational and that the social enterprise company was committed to the former NHS staff who would be employed by the company under the changes.
Other speakers included Stroud MP Neil Carmichael, Tanya Palmer of Unison, Dr Philip Fielding, a GP and vice-chairman of the county’s Local Medical Committee and Linda Prosser of NHS Gloucestershire.
The meeting was chaired by Canon John James.
Speakers for the changes explained the plans for moving the health services to a social enterprise company and how it would affect care in the town.
Opposition speakers raised concerns about what would happen to the services after the three-year contract of the social enterprise company and if it was the beginning to privatisation of the health service.
A vote was taken at the end of the debate, which included a lively question and answer session, as to whether people supported the social enterprise initiative.
The audience, in a show of hands, voted overwhelmingly against the plans.
Stroud Against Cuts is holding a co-ordination meeting on Monday September 5 at 7pm at Lansdown Hall and Gallery (formerly The Space), Lansdown, Stroud.
Find out more at www.stroudagainstcuts.co.uk
To read about the social enterprise plans, visit www.nhsglos.nhs.uk