ANGRY campaigners gathered to protest against the proposed changes to Dorset County Hospital’s paediatric services.

The Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) recently unveiled plans that could include sending children who need long-term care or who are seriously ill to Bournemouth or Poole.

There may also be just one Special Care Baby UNit baby unit based in the east of the county.

The Echo has launched a campaign to safeguard the services at Dorset County Hospital.

Protestors said their demonstration will be the first of many and had a very clear message:‘Save our Wards.’ Lousia Yates, 29, a mother of three who is also three-months pregnant said families would suffer if the changes went ahead.

She said: “It’s ridiculous, appalling and disgusting, we need to be with our children.”

Sarah Tompkins, 29 from Portland, was sent to a hospital in Taunton due to a lack of room at DCH when her daughter was born prematurely. She said: “When I was in Taunton it was hard being separated from everyone, I wouldn’t inflict that on my worst enemy, let alone mums.”

The protest started outside Vespasian House in Dorchester and the group then moved to outside the CCG offices at the back of the building.

Charles Summers, CCG director of engagement and development, and Sara Bonfanti, engagement and communication lead, stepped outside the offices to take questions from the crowd.

Naomi Patterson, a mother who moved from Weymouth to Dorchester to be close to the hospital for the benefit of her son who suffers from a range of life-threatening illnesses, said: “Why is my son fighting every day to be here when you’re planning to take this hospital away?”

Dente Yates, aged five, raised his hand and asked Mr Summers: “Why are you taking the children’s ward away?”

Supporting the protest, Nicky Dear told the CCG members: “We’re not going to go away, we’re going to get bigger and stronger.”

Mr Summers said he was unable to answer the group’s multiple questions and concerns but took details from members and said he would give them their answers within a few weeks.

He also invited a small number of protestors to come inside and discuss their concerns.

Speaking to the Echo, Mr Summers said: “We recognise the views that have been expressed here today. I think what we have heard are strong views in the community town and we are working hard to make sure that these are understood in full.”

A spokesperson for the CCG said: “Today, representatives from Dorset CCG spoke with a small group of campaigners outside our offices in Dorchester. We have agreed to provide information to the group for them to share on social media. 

"We want local parents to understand that no decisions have been taken to close the Kingfisher Ward at Dorset County Hospital. As part of our ambitions to deliver higher quality, safer and more sustainable care for children across Dorset we intend to continue to have a large range of services available at Dorset County Hospital to treat children that need to be seen at a hospital.

"We will be launching a public consultation in August and we would like to encourage local people to give us their views about the proposals during this time. The views provided in the 12 week consultation period will be analysed and compiled into an independent report.

"This report will be considered by Dorset CCG before they make their decisions about what changes to implement in Spring 2016. The public consultation cannot start before August because our proposals must first be reviewed by a team of external assessors who are checking that they are viable and should be consulted on.

To keep informed about the review, our proposals and the consultation we encourage people to visit and to sign up to the Health Involvement Network for regular updates”.