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Groups campaigning against plans to axe the 15 medical beds at Westminster Memorial Hospital in Shaftesbury have handed in thousands of responses from the general public.

Julian Pritchard of the Save Our Beds campaign personally handed over 5,200 completed response forms to the head of the body proposing to remove the beds, Tim Goodson, chief officer of the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), at the organisation’s headquarters in Dorchester.

Mr Goodson was also handed a letter from the Shaftesbury and District Task Force on behalf of the Westminster Memorial Hospital Working Group which opposes the changes.

‘We are particularly concerned about the proposals for our valued local hospital, Westminster Memorial Hospital in Shaftesbury which serves local residents living in Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset. Our group does not support your proposals,’ it declared.

The letter was accompanied by a report on the proposals by Dr Helen Tucker, an independent management consultant who was asked into look into the changes.

In its findings the report says:

– There is not enough information to make an informed decision on this important and far-reaching proposal for the future of local health and care.

– There is scope to improve on the clarity of the proposal, and rectify inconsistencies.

– There is a case to be made to extend the consultation period, to remedy the lack of consultation with those living in a Wiltshire postcode.

One of the major complaints levelled at the consultation was that many of the people who use the Westminster Memorial Hospital and who live in Wiltshire were barely consulted about the changes.

This could yet lead to legal and administrative challenges to the consultation itself.

Campaigners have meanwhile promised that the fight to save the beds at Shaftesbury will carry on.

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