Some 5,000 people, one in eight of the local population, rallied in People’s Park, Banbury, Oxfordshire, last Sunday in defence of the Horton General hospital.
The NHS Trust that runs the hospital plans to close the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), the children’s ward and the gynaecological ward.
Campaigners fear that babies’ lives will be put in jeopardy on the 30 mile journey to the nearest alternative SCBU, and that families will face a 60 mile round trip to visit sick relatives.
One protester told the rally that her two sons would have died if she had had to travel to Oxford when her labour became difficult.
The trust has a £33 million shortfall in funding. Other planned cuts include ending 24 hour emergency surgery at weekends and transfering microbiology services to Oxford.
Speakers from the Keep Our NHS Public campaign and Unison union were well received when they attacked the government’s privatisation plans for the health service.
The biggest applause went to the Horton staff who marched to the protest.
Campaigners have called a mass lobby of the first public consultation meeting on 6 July.