CAMPAIGNERS against NHS cuts have presented a petition with over 8,000 signatures against proposed emergency services downgrading at Poole Hospital to the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) in Dorchester.

Residents from Purbeck travelled to Dorchester yesterday to handover six folders full of 8,048 signatures of residents in Swanage, Corfe and Wareham against the proposed downgrading of the accident and emergency department at Poole Hospital to an ‘urgent care centre’ and cuts to the maternity ward.

Gerry Norris, from the Friends of Swanage Hospital group, said: “Social care has gone down the pan in the last 10 years and now it’s going to be far worse with what’s coming – we have seen nothing yet.”

Debby Monkhouse from Keep Our NHS Public Dorset (KONPD) said the residents started the protest after being concerned that people from the area would not be able to get to the next nearest A&E department at Royal Bournemouth Hospital in a ‘safe time’.

She said: “For major trauma, strokes, maternity, they are putting people in Swanage at risk of increased fatility and life long disabilities and it’s just not acceptable.”

Swanage town councillor Avril Harris handed over the signed petition to chief officer of NHS Dorset CCG Tim Goodson.

She said the signatures were gathered after a great community effort. Councillor Tia Roos from Weymouth was also there to show her support and commended the effort.

Mr Goodson welcomed the response from the community.

He said: “As we have been clear about since the start of the Clinical Services Review, any final decisions will only be made once we have considered the feedback we receive during the consultation period.

"We recognise that people are passionate about their local services and with only a week to go we are reminding people not to miss out on the opportunity to have their say about the proposals by visiting or by picking up a copy of the consultation document."