HOSPITAL campaigners have been given renewed hope that children's inpatient services will remain in Dorchester after it emerged that no cost savings would arise from relocating to Bournemouth or Poole.

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin said he is confident that the service can be protected following correspondence with the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Proposals put forward by the CCG included an option to downgrade children's services at Dorset County Hospital to a paediatric assessment unit with inpatient services transferred to a hospital in the east of the county.

The proposals sparked outrage from parents and the local community with the Echo backing a campaign to keep services in the county town.

A period of consultation that had been due to start in August has now been put back to next year as the CCG undertakes further work on the proposals.

Mr Letwin has also been supporting the campaigners and said that following the latest revelation from the CCG that the proposed changes would not actually result in any financial saving, he was confident that a solution could be reached that does not involve the transfer of services from Dorchester.

He said: "If there is no financial saving then the argument for maintaining the fully fledged inpatient service in Dorchester is overwhelmingly strong.

"The review is in any case up for further discussion and I'm very confident we will arrive at a position where we maintain the inpatient service."

Campaigner Naomi Patterson, whose son George regularly requires the care of Dorset County Hospital's Kingfisher Ward, said she was surprised at the revelation that there would be no cost savings achieved by the proposals and she too was hopeful that it would strengthen their fight to keep services in Dorchester.

She said: "It gives me great hope like Oliver says that there’s no cost savings.

"On the other hand it still makes me feel a bit angry because it makes me feel they have no consideration for the west side of the county at all.

"If it doesn’t save any money, why on earth are they going ahead with it?

"Personally I feel they should throw their hands up and say they have made a mistake."

The campaign to protect services has seen a number of demonstrations including and Echo-backed march through Dorchester attended by more than 1,000 people.

The Echo has also been running a petition to Save our Wards, which has attracted more than 16,000 signatures.

The CCG says it is due to hold talks with Mr Letwin this week and will update the public further following discussions with the MP.

A spokesman for the Dorset CCG said: "Dr Forbes Watson, GP at Lyme Bay Medical Practice and NHS Dorset CCG chair along with Tim Goodson, NHS Dorset CCG chief accountable officer and Dr Blair Millar, local GP and CCG member are looking forward to seeing Mr Letwin MP on Thursday morning for one of a series of regular update meetings.

"We are happy to update the public about the details of this discussion after this meeting has taken place."