Hospital campaigners in South Tyneside have racked up 25,000 signatures in their fight against a shake up of services.
The Save South Tyneside Hospital group say they now have their sights on raising 30,000 votes of support to retain a range of procedures and departments at South Tyneside District Hospital.
The petition was launched last year following fears that that some key services could be moved from South Tyneside Hospital to Sunderland Royal Hospital after the two trusts annouced they would be working together.
Since then South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS partnership have launched a ‘Path to Excellence’ public consultation with options including review of stroke care services; maternity and women’s services and children and young people’s healthcare services which could include some moving to Sunderland.
If approved, this would lead to a reduction in services being offered at the hospital, in Harton Lane, South Shields.
The campaigners say the 25,000 signatures reflects the huge support from people desperate to retain vital services in the borough.
Chairman of the campiagn, Roger Nettleship said: “The campaign is making people more aware. Some people still don’t know what is going on.
“It is really important to fight to keep departments such as 24/7 children’s A&E services.
“There has been tremendous support for the campaign and it is the biggest and most important campaign I have been involved in.”
He added: “We plan to hold a third meeting in Sunderland later this month and we are going to increase out petition target to 30,000.”
The second public meeting of the Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign will be held tonight (FRI) at Hedworth Community Association in Fellgate at 6:30pm.
It will be chaired by Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn MP and speakers include South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck; Marion Langley from South Tyneside District Hospital; Gemma Taylor, campaign co-ordinator; Mr Nettleship and Allyson Pollock from Newcastle University.
Speaking on behalf of the South Tyneside Public Transport Users Group, Shirley Ford said she was delighted with the figure.
She said: “Moving services will have a travel implications for people across the borough.
“We have been petitioning across areas including Fellgate and Cleadon and there is a huge level of concern.
“We want more options to keep our local hospital with a range of services for local people.
“People have been saying what a huge impact it will have.”
To sign the petition visit: http://www.savesouthtynesidehospital.org/petition/