A group of nurses, health professionals and patients has launched a fight against what they claim are "shameful" proposals to close wards at Kendal's hospital.

Under the banner of NHS SOS Save our Services, the group is campaigning against the proposed closures of Wards 2 and 4 at Westmorland General Hospital, as well as bed closures on Wards 3 and 5.

The campaigners have not ruled out a demonstration to get their point across, in an echo of the huge march in 2001 by supporters of the hospital's Helme Chase Maternity Unit, which was under threat at the time.

They say they have already collected 1,000 petition signatures, and are launching their campaign at a public meeting on December 6, when they plan to tell the public that finances should not come before patient care.

Andrew Billson-Page, who works on Ward 4 and is a Unison representative for the hospital, said there was strong feeling in the community about the closures: "There's not a day gone by when I have gone into town and a former patient or somebody who knows a patient on the ward has not come up to me and asked what are we doing about it."

The campaign follows the news of serious financial problems at Morecambe Bay Primary Care Trust, and Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust.

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