Thousands of people opposed to plans to downgrade Inverclyde Royal Hospital (IRH) have marched through Greenock.
Thousands attended the march in Greenock
Argyll and Clyde health board unveiled cuts to its service in June aimed at curbing a £42m budget overspend.
The cutbacks will mean the downgrading of IRH and the possible closure of five smaller hospitals for the elderly and mentally ill.
Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde Duncan McNeil said around 4,000 people attended the march and rally.
Accident and emergency
He said: "People took the opportunity to demonstrate their opposition to the
health board's proposals and they are hopeful that the turn out today can turn
up the heat on the health board."
The NHS Argyll and Clyde area covers a population of more than 400,000, stretching from Oban to Paisley, and including 26 inhabited islands.
In a consultation paper, the health board warned that some services would collapse if changes were not made.
Proposals to reduce the services available at IRH and Vale of Leven in West Dunbartonshire would leave the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley as the area's main accident and emergency department.
It would also be the only hospital able to carry out complex surgery.
Mr McNeil said the clinical strategy raised more questions than it answered
and feared centralisation would lead to problems for patients.
He said the planned move of accident and emergency units to Paisley raised
concern for patients having to travel further.
And Mr McNeil had little faith in a planned public consultation.
He said: "The cutbacks and the consultation is not satisfactory. It limits
the scope of what you can discuss."
The march culminated in a rally where Mr McNeil was joined by MSPs from other
political parties, including Scottish Socialist Frances Curran, SNP MSP Bruce
McFee and environment minister Ross Finnie, and trade union leaders.
Mr McNeil, who is also a member of Holyrood's Health Committee, hoped the
march would encourage a "real debate" about the centralisation of health
services in Scotland.
He said: "People are concerned all over Scotland, not just in Inverclyde and
Greenock, in regards to the shortages in consultants and junior doctors and cut