In 1948 – after disillusioned soldiers had returned triumphant from war – politician Aneurin 'Nye' Bevan spearheaded the introduction of a nationalised health service that everyone could rely on.
Back in those post war days, Bevan christened Davyhulme Park Hospital as the first NHS hospital and proclaimed: “There will be an NHS as long as there are folk left to fight for it.”
Now, 64 years on, there are folk who are doing just that – fighting to save the very same hospital, albeit now renamed Trafford General.
Last year, the hospital and in turn the local trust were struggling and with an annual shortfall which now stands at £19million, it was time to look for an alternative.
Amid this bleak outlook, the 'Save Trafford General' campaign was born as the hospital's financial position grew ever more strained.
Staving off the threat of circling private investors, the campaign lobbied to keep the NHS' birthplace in public hands – ultimately succeeding when Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust took Trafford General under its wing.
This summer however – despite previous assurances that the hospital's accident and emergency department would be safe as part of any takeover bid – the campaign has taken to the streets again as a report reveals possible cuts to the hospital.
Last weekend, campaigners and concerned residents marched with campaign chair Matthew Finnegan defiantly warning the trust: “Ignore us at your peril. This march is not the end. It is just the beginning.”
It appears there will be many more rounds to fight before this battle between purse-strings and placards dies down and the thought of such an iconic hospital being picked apart seems unthinkable despite Minister of State for Health Simon Burns saying: “History is not enough.”
I must admit, I have an emotional connection to this hospital – not just the NHS' birthplace but also my own.
My life was arguably saved there once and – despite my Father's pleas to 'wait until half time' of a World Cup match when I was once injured – could probably have my own chair in the accident and emergency department I’ve been there that often
As a former Trafford resident, I can bare some sympathy with local residents who feel the gradual carve up of services at the hospital could lead to longer journeys for treatment in their hour of need.
Pathology Laboratory worker at the hospital, Irene Ashcroft attended the rally, saying: “I've got young grandchildren and I've got to travel all the way to Manchester and I think it's disgraceful.”
“It's the beginning of the end I feel. I think we need to make a stand now and do this,” added the 63-year-old from Urmston. “We need to have our voice heard, tell them how we feel because they're getting rid of things bit by bit.”
However, it is evident that proposals which could also relocate the hospital's one-year-old £1million intensive care unit, children's services and acute surgery departments must have some reasoning other than financial benefits behind them and it appears that given the situation the hospital finds itself in, the changes could be the only way to revive a financially ailing facility.
The recent report highlights the current position of Trafford General as being 'not sustainable' with less than half of Trafford's residents using its accident and emergency department.
An NHS Trafford spokesperson said: "It is one of the smallest hospitals in the country, runs the second smallest accident and emergency department in the country, and the relatively low numbers of patients using the hospital means the services are not clinically sustainable and could become unsafe in the future.
“It also costs the local health economy £19 million more a year than is available, and these things combined mean that the future of the hospital is under threat if changes aren’t made.”
With an ever increasing deficit, it makes sense that services at the hospital would also suffer at the same rate and this move is targeted at stopping the rot before the financial gangrene takes hold.
It is a view that is shared by Stretford and Urmston MP Kate Green who said: “No change is not an option here in Trafford. But change must enhance not diminish the NHS services our constituents need.”
However, the 38,000 Traffordians who attended the hospital's accident and emergency department cannot simply stop going – somewhere will have to attend to their emergency needs if the department is, as expected, reduced to urgent care and limited hours.
The probability is that the surrounding hospitals, including Wythenshawe Hospital will absorb the additional patients, something which Wythenshawe and Sale East's MP Paul Goggins is fearful of without appropriate investment.
In a private member's debate on Tuesday, Mr Goggins sought guarantees that the estimated £11.5million investment needed to install adequate facilities would be provided to his constituency's hospital.
Mr Goggins’ concerns were clear when highlighting it could mean up to 95,000 visitors to an emergency unit designed for 70,000.
Unfortunately, Mr Burns stopped short of providing this financial pledge, saying: “I can give no such guarantees.”
The Minister added: “I cannot go the whole hog and commit that £11.5 million, or whatever other figure might arise because it is not in my give. These are local decisions free from ministerial interference.”
It seems likely that the birthplace of the NHS will not continue in the same format with the various emergency service lifelines surgically removed to other sites.
However, the gravest concern has to be the removal of these services without guarantees of the facilities to cope with relocated crowds of patients.
Without these steps it appears that if Trafford General continues to get smaller, Mr Goggins' prediction of 'longer queues, longer waiting times and cancelled operations' will become worryingly closer to reality.
For now, the public consultation – set to start next week – seems increasingly vital for the residents of Trafford in ensuring viable alternatives are put in place before their hospital goes under the knife.