CAMPAIGNERS against the closure of a ward for dying patients say they are encouraged after a face-to-face meeting with those who will decide its future.
The Save G5 Campaign Group handed over a 10,000-signature petition to the panel members who had made the trip to Portsmouth yesterday.
The News also presented them with a dossier of evidence about why the ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham should be reopened.
The ward for terminally-ill people over 65 was shut by NHS bosses last September with patients now dying on general wards.
G5 campaigner Will Purvis said: ‘It was a really good day.
‘The panel were very interested to hear our evidence.
‘It was our chance to tell the panel why G5 shouldn’t have been closed and show them how flawed the consultation was.
‘We handed them over a petition with 10,000 names on.
‘This is a copy of the petition we’ll be giving to the hospital trust and government in the near future.
‘This shows the strength of feeling about G5 in Portsmouth.
‘We hope the panel will listen to us.
‘The meeting seemed to go really well though and they seemed very interested in what we had to say and gave us a lot of time to talk through everything.’
A new mobile nurse team has been set up to replace G5, but critics say it is a lesser service and there was a lack of consultation on the ward’s closure.
An independent panel is now investigating the decision after the Secretary of State for Health ordered a review.
After gathering evidence they will make recommendations to the cabinet minister next month.
While whatever they decide is not binding, the Health Secretary rarely goes against the panel.
Four members of the 16-strong independent panel, who are experts on NHS service change, attended the meeting at Portsmouth City Council’s civic offices yesterday.
The News handed over dozens of articles about the closure, as well as letters from readers and hospital staff.
Panel member Fiona Campbell told the campaigners yesterday: ‘I’m very impressed by your passion for this issue.’
Paul Roberts, who is leading the review, thanked them for putting forward a clear and concise case.
Campaigner Mr Purvis said the closure of G5 was down to cost-cutting and was such a major change it should have gone before the board of the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, councillors and the public.
He added: ‘They’ve come up with a new model of care in secret that is incredibly unpopular.’
Fellow G5 campaigner Darren Sanders said: ‘People in Portsmouth are incredibly angry about this. Local MPs like Mike Hancock have said they’ve not seen such anger about an issue before.’