HOSPITAL chiefs have issued a plea for support from governors over its plans for the future of Dorset County Hospital’s pathology services.

The Dorchester hospital is currently inviting private companies to bid for the service in place of the current set-up, sparking fears that it could be relocated from the town.

Representatives from the Dorset Health Campaign were out in the county town last weekend collecting signatures for a petition calling for the service to remain in Dorchester and obtained more than 1,000 signatures.

At a subsequent meeting of hospital governors, chairman of the trust, Jeffrey Ellwood, asked for the backing of governors over the move. His plea came after public governor Michel Hooper-Immins said that the governors, who had no input into the decision making process, would be keeping a close eye on the situation.

Mr Hooper-Immins said: “The public and governors are watching the directors very carefully.

“They bear a heavy responsibility.”

Mr Ellwood said the board would be failing in its responsibilities if it failed to act over a cost ineffective service that was having an effect on patients.

He said: “We have to look at every service in the trust and this may well be the first of a number of services where costs could be saved doing something else.”

Mr Ellwood added: “I assure you on behalf of the board that it does not help us to feel the governors are not supporting us in this very difficult decision.”

Governor Wendy Nightingale added: “The most important thing is the quality. It doesn’t matter where it is. If we can’t provide that then so be it, it moves.”

The hospital has stressed that essential pathology services will remain on site. A decision on the future of the rest of the service will be made in September.