Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Maternity petition is delivered to Downing Street

Maternity protest
Protesters in Maidstone deliver a petition to Downing Street

A petition, signed by thousands of people to keep full maternity services at a Kent hospital, has been delivered to Downing Street.

The petition is against plans by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust to concentrate consultant-led services at Pembury Hospital from 2011.

More than 20,000 people signed the petition against the proposed removal of some services at Maidstone Hospital.

The NHS Trust said the changes would raise the standard of care.

Campaigner Nicky Julier said: "I haemorrhaged, and if I hadn't had an emergency hysterectomy I would have bled to death.

"I was very lucky that there was a consultant on call who came in and did the operation. If I had left it longer I wouldn't be here today.

"My fear is, if they take the core maternity services away and just have a birthing centre, people will die."

Nicky Julier

Plea to keep maternity services

A spokesperson for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said: "The changes which have been planned since 2004, were not financially driven and will not put people at risk.

"They have always been driven by the need to reduce risk and raise standards of care for over 500,000 people living in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells."

The hospital said it had proposed the changes because it was unable to provide good consultant-led care across two hospitals and did not have the required number of professionals to serve duplicate units in the future.

The plans propose that consultant-led services will be removed from Maidstone Hospital only.

Outpatient services for women and children, antenatal and day care surgery and a new midwife led birthing unit will remain at the hospital.

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