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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Hospital protest reaches London
St Richard's Hospital campaign leaflet
More than 136,000 people have signed the petition
Campaigners have walked from Chichester to Downing Street to protest against proposals which may downgrade services at the West Sussex hospital.

Walkers made the 76-mile (122km) trip to deliver a 136,000 signature petition to Tony Blair and health officials at 1300 BST on Tuesday.

They are unhappy about plans which could see St Richard's Hospital in the town lose its A&E department.

Up to 50 people have taken part in the journey which was started on Thursday.

A&E care at the Worthing and Southlands Hospital, and the Princess Royal, in Haywards Heath, is also in doubt.

'Very Wet'

Campaigner Abigail Rowe said: "One colleague has got very bad feet but the rest of us have been fine.

"We actually went a longer scenic route to avoid the roads. It's been beautiful and it's been very wet."

She added: "We have 3,500 pages, which fills a lot of boxes. We've carried a few on our backs and the rest are being brought down today [Tuesday].

"From a community point of view people in Chichester need an A& E department."

Hundreds of campaigners also took part in demonstrations at Haywards Heath and Worthing on Monday.

West Sussex Primary Care Trust announced plans last week to downgrade two out of the county's three hospitals.

Urgent care centres

It said there should be only one major general hospital with the full range of A&E, emergency surgery and consultant-led maternity services.

The two A&Es which close will be replaced by new 24-hour urgent care centres and a minor injury unit.

The PCT said there would also be a new birthing centre somewhere in West Sussex, and more paramedics and community nurses to treat people in their homes or at their local GP surgeries.

A public consultation exercise has started and is expected to run for 18 weeks, with 100 public meetings.


SEE ALSO
Maternity site debate under way
26 Mar 07 |  Sussex
Cameron backs hospital campaign
01 Feb 07 |  England

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