EVESHAM Town Hall was packed for a meeting on the NHS' future, held in the aftermath of the death of a boy who ambulance staff were told not to take to his nearest hospital.

The cross-party meeting took place at the Vine Street venue and featured a range of speakers including members of the public.

The meeting was held on March 7, only days after the news broke that eight-year-old Callum Cartlidge was taken to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, in Worcester, by ambulance despite him living only two minutes away from Redditch's Alexander Hospital.

It has been policy to take the most seriously ill children in the county to Worcester since September, and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust says it cannot comment until an investigation into Callum's death on March 3 has been completed.

Dr Sylvia Chandler, a retired GP and joint chairman of the local Keep our NHS Public group opened the meeting.

Dr Chandler said: "Everyone here will have been worried about recent headlines over increasing waits for treatment and GP appointments, cancelled operations or cuts to services, or been saddened by recent events at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

"We need especially to be aware of the proposals forthcoming in the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Worcestershire."

Dr Chandler spoke on the STP, saying it will result in a cut of £336 million from local health care by 2021, pointing out this is proposed to be done through various methods including reducing temporary staff, when there was already "far fewer consultants, GPs and district nurses than we need".

Dr Chandler said further savings are proposed to be made through the further reduction of A&E services and at the minor injury unit at Tenbury Wells and Evesham, a reduction in community beds from 342 to 182 saving £5.9 million, and a reduction in mental health services.

Dr Chandler said Evesham would see a gaining in the number of stroke beds, but added the town would "presumably lose beds for other health needs".

She also attacked "increasing privatisation which allows companies to cherry-pick and involves deskilling and reduction of staff".

Margaret Rowley, from the Liberal Democrats, spoke and supported the integration of health and social care, but was concerned about the service reductions, saying her party believed an immediate input of £4 billion was needed.

She did not have a major problem with private providers "along as a good service was delivered and it remains under public control".

But Neil Franks, from the Green Party, rejected private providers, saying NHS funds which should be spent on services was disappearing as company profits and called for support for the NHS Reinstatement Bill.

MP Nigel Huddleston was unable to attend, but requested and was provided a report from the meeting.

The STP team had also been invited but could not find anyone to attend, so around 50 people signed a letter requesting a date for when the STP team could meet residents.

After the meeting Michael Worrall of Evesham Labour Party, who chaired the meeting, said: "Everyone needs to know what is being proposed here, and why.

"Countries like France and Germany spend far more on their health services.

"People want to hear from the STP. If we are not careful the NHS will be pulled from under our feet without us noticing."