CAMPAIGNERS have handed over more than 10,000 signatures calling for pathology services to remain at Dorset County Hospital.

Hospital bosses are due to discuss the future of pathology services next month and members of the Dorset Health Campaign handed over the signatures they have been collected ahead of their latest board meeting.

The campaigners have been gathering signatures to show support for keeping the pathology lab on site, amid fears that the review could see the service moved to a privately-run facility in Taunton.

Ros Kayes, from the Dorset Health Campaign, said the number of signatures showed not just the strength of feeling about the pathology lab locally, but also illustrated a wider concern about privatisation of NHS services.

She said: “It shows the strength of local opinion and I think it also shows the concern about privatisation of the NHS in general.

“It’s not just the path lab they are worried about, they see this as the first step and people in Dorset are really concerned about it.

“They love this hospital and want to see it stay secure into the future and as far as they are concerned that means having a path lab.

“We are really worried about the knock on effect on other parts of the hospital, that’s why we have been campaigning so strongly.

“We would just like to plead with the management to listen to what the people of Dorset think.”

Fellow campaigner Chris East said that the group had around 8,000 signatures yesterday afternoon but after their petition was posted on the 38 Degrees campaign website it attracted just over 2,000 further signatures overnight.

He said: “They were literally coming in every minute.”

The petition was presented to chairman of the Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust Dr Jeffrey Ellwood inside the boardroom.

Earlier in the week Dr Ellwood had told a meeting of hospital governors that the board was due to review all the evidence it had been collecting in relation to the pathology services next month but was unable to confirm whether the meeting would result in a final decision on the future of the pathology lab.