Campaigners opposed to a proposed "downgrade" of a troubled hospital have turned out in force at the first public meeting on the planned shake-up of care.
Hundreds of people have been arriving to hear more about a proposal to dissolve the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, and cut some emergency, maternity and paediatric care services at Stafford Hospital.
In April, Mid Staffordshire became the first foundation trust to be put into administration after a review on behalf of health watchdog Monitor found it was "neither clinically or financially viable in the long term".
It followed the publication of a damning public inquiry into care at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009, which concluded the hospital had neglected basic patient care amid a pursuit of targets and against a backdrop of budget cuts.
Last month, the trust special administrators appointed to help determine its future finally published their draft proposals which would strip Stafford Hospital of some maternity and paediatric services but safeguard its part-time accident and emergency department, while its management would be taken on in the longer term by a neighbouring trust - almost certainly the University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust.
Services currently provided at Cannock Chase Hospital - also managed by Mid Staffordshire, would remain as they are, while its running would also be transferred to another NHS trust. The plans have been greeted with disappointment by local health campaigners who have accused administrators of attempting a "downgrade" of Stafford Hospital.
Karen Howell, of campaign group Support Stafford Hospital, said she was concerned about the impact of the changes.
"We are concerned that some of the ideas which have been included in these proposals have already been in place for some time, so we know already that they will not work," she said.
"We are also concerned about the neighbouring trusts who would take over these services, as they are already running at capacity. Our fear is this will lead to a fracturing of care and our view is that Stafford needs a fully equipped general hospital, offering a complete range of services. But what these proposals represent is a downgrade."
Administrators are hosting the first public meeting at Staffordshire County Showground with the consultation process ending on October 1. Any changes will need the approval of the Health Secretary, who is expected to consider any final recommendations at the end of the year.