A MASS leafleting campaign to defend vital services at Furness General Hospital has been launched by residents and an MP.

Parents, councillors and John Woodcock, MP for Furness, turned out to deliver 40,000 'Save Our Hospital' leaflets to households across the area on Saturday, in a bid to stop services from being cut at the Barrow site.

“Doctors who make the big decisions about the future of our hospital listened to us when we said we needed to keep a full consultant-led maternity unit at Furness General," said the MP.

"That was a brilliant result for this community and we are really grateful that they listened.

“But they are under pressure to balance the budget when more government cuts are looming and there are suggestions that the days of district general hospitals are numbered and services should be transferred to bigger regional centres.

“The Save Our Hospital campaign aims to do what it says on the leaflet, and we aim to collect thousands of signatures to show the strength of feeling in our community and urge decision-makers not to let us down.”

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, which runs FGH, needs to make year-on-year savings with a target of £18m this financial year.

And campaigners hope people will sign a petition to persuade health service decision-makers not to cut vital services at FGH.

The initiative brings together activists from the successful Thousand Voices maternity campaign and the oncology group FGH Cancer Care.

“The geographical isolation of the Furness area means that travel to regional centres would be a massive problem for the people of this area," said FGH Cancer Care co-ordinator Darren McSweeney.

"The people of Furness are rightly passionate about healthcare provision and adding their voices to this campaign will send a clear message to the decision makers that they are prepared to fight for quality local care.”

Thousand Voices campaigner, Mandy Telford, added: “Government health cuts are continuing and we hear of plans to transfer services to big regional centres.

“That would be a disaster for Furness."

The campaign is also being supported by the Barrow and Furness Labour party.

The campaign can be found on Facebook and followed on Twitter at @saveFGH.