The battle to save Macclesfield Hospital’s A&E department has been won.

Thousands of people signed a petition to save the department and backed the Express’s campaign after health bosses said it was at risk and could be replaced with an ‘urgent care centre’.

But following the overwhelming response from the community and its leaders, they now say the plans have been scrapped.

MP David Rutley, who joined our campaign, said he was delighted with the news and praised the Express for leading the appeal.

He said: “It is good to see that common sense has prevailed.

“I’m pleased assurances have been given that A&E services will remain at Macclesfield Hospital.”

He added: “I would also like to thank Claire Gilham, who established the Parliamentary petition and the 9,500 people who signed the petition to oppose these vital services being downgraded.

“The support of local MPs, including George Osborne, Fiona Bruce, Andrew Bingham, and the strong voice of Cheshire East Council, have been invaluable in helping health service providers understand how important it is to keep Accident & Emergency services in Macclesfield.”

Campaigners sprang into action after the Express broke the news earlier this month, and in just six days more than 150 people returned campaign forms we published in the paper. The Express also teamed up with local MPs to launch a petition and kept up the pressure on health providers.

The campaign had been gaining support from all areas of the community and a major social media campaign was underway.

But then health bosses this week announced that A&E will remain, and downgrading it is no longer an option - signalling a victory for our appeal.

Neil Goodwin, independent chairman of the Eastern Cheshire Caring Together programme, said: “East Cheshire NHS Trust which runs Macclesfield Hospital, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, GPs, Cheshire East Council and NHS England have been working together through the Caring Together programme to ensure services are sustainable and bring about real improvements to standards of care.

“The clear view is that the best model of care will include an A&E department at Macclesfield staffed by hospital doctors and clinicians.

“It is important that the Caring Together Board working with local people and partners concentrates on ensuring we have a local care system which is as effective, efficient and innovative as possible.”

Dr Paul Bowen, CCG clinical chair, said he hopes this provides assurance for both patients and staff.

Macclesfield A&E treats more than 52,000 patients per year. It is open all day every day treating serious illness and injury.

Patients with certain conditions already go to other hospitals.

Keep signing the petition

A campaigner who led the petition has urged people to continue to support the campaign.

Assurances that the A&E will remain at Macclesfield Hospital have been made this week following a huge campaign.

But Claire Gilham, the nurse who set up the online petition to fight plans to downgrade A&E, said the community needs to keep up its fight.

She said: “Thanks to the Express for the campaign keeping up the support for the hospital. But nothing can be taken for granted and the petition still needs to continue.

“I urge local people to keep signing.”

The Express will also continue to ask questions about how exactly the department will look in the future to ensure that the vital services are not removed. Health providers in Cheshire and Merseyside need to save £909m by 2020 and it is still not clear where the cuts will be made.

Caring Together, which is made up of various local health partners, had made no further statement about this by the time we went to press.

The Express launched a petition of its own and put coupons in the paper for people to fill in – with more than 150 people returning them this week.

Go to 171296 to sign.

Public meeting, Friday, December 2

Dr Bowen will attend the Make it Macclesfield meeting on Friday (December 2).

He will give a summary of the Caring Together programme and the case for more ‘joined up local healthcare’.

The meeting is open to all residents to ask questions about health services.

Mike Rance, vice chairman of Make it Macclesfield, said: “I’m aware of the enormous progress that’s been made in retaining the A&E.

“Well done for the Express contribution to this outcome.

“There’ll be less pressure on Paul Bowen at our meeting but I’d still like a decent audience to use the opportunity to give Paul a chance to set out next steps and for people to ask points of clarification.”

The meeting is in the Mill Court Balcony at the AstraZeneca Hurdsfield Campus at 8am, with refreshments available from 7.30am.

Anyone can attend but organisers prefer people to register via Eventbrite.

There will also be discussion about the town centre regeneration.