Mental health is often seen as 'the forgotten condition' - possibly because people who have mental health issues are reluctant to talk about them for fear of being stigmatised and also, perhaps, because other people feel much more uncomfortable talking about such matters than they would about a physical illness.

It has been heartening, therefore, to see the level of interest and opposition to proposals to close, either temporarily or permanently, Kentmere Ward, the adult in-patient mental health care ward at Kendal's Westmorland General Hospital.

Thousands of people have signed a petition, set up by MP Tim Farron, to save the ward, while scores have backed The Westmorland Gazette's Hands Off Our Hospital campaign, which urges Cumbria Partnership and other health partners to do all they can to retain the ward or to provide an alternative site for the service at WGH.

This week there was delight for campaigners after a new report presented by the trust's medical director concluded the ward should not close at this stage.

While the report recognised that problems still exist relating to patients' access to open space, lack of privacy and the number of ligature points on the ward, it stated that some remedial works had been carried out and that, on balance, there would be more risks involved in closing it than trying to look after patients in the community.

The report's recommendations were expected to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the trust's board today (Thursday).

This is welcome news but there is no room for complacency. Mr Farron has organised a march through Kendal on Saturday, which should be seen as a celebration but also a show of support to convince health bosses of the local community's desire to see services retained at its general hospital.

In the medium term health bosses should continue to examine ways of improving the ward at WGH - if necessary, utilising other space there to create a new unit.

In the meantime we would urge readers to join the march on Saturday - and to carry the Hands Off Our Hospital cut-out poster on page XX as they walk.