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Times toasts victory after year-long fight

The Glasgow Evening Times has toasted victory after its year-long campaign to save the Queen Mother’s maternity unit ended in success.

A total of 156,000 readers pledged their support to the cause, which was launched on October 8 last year and headed by chief reporter David Leask and health reporter John McCann.

Evening Times editor Charles McGhee, who appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s petition’s committee to argue against the closure, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for people power and for the Evening Times which has a long and proud history of campaigning journalism.

“It’s also proof that newspapers, working closely with the community, can take on powerful and unaccountable bodies such as health boards and win.”

News of the triumph came after health minister Malcolm Chisholm scrapped plans to close the world-famous Yorkhill hospital.

In a much welcomed turnaround, the Scottish executive has also shunned proposals to sever the unit’s links with the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

He agreed to give Glasgow more than £100m to keep the two hospitals together at a new site. The responsibility of relocating the complex will be given to an independent advisory group.

During the year-long Hands Off Yorkhill campaign, the newspaper faced threats of legal action from health board planning director Catriona Renfrew.

In addition to a petition, the push included more than 400 separate stories, editorials and opinion specials.

Editor Charles added: “Mr Chisholm’s decision is also a victory for Scottish democracy and the new Scottish parliament.

“Unlike the health board, Mr Chisholme has listened carefully to scores of leading clinicians and hundreds of thousands of concerned members of the public.

“They presented an overwhelming case against the closure plans. Every individual who has played even the tiniest part must share the credit. It is clear that the long fight for justice has been won.”

The campaign also received praise from Glasgow City Council leader Charles Gordon.

He said: “I want to congratulate the Evening Times. This must be the most successful newspaper campaign in the modern era.”

The Queen Mum’s is the only maternity hospital in Scotland physically linked with a children’s unit. Construction work on the new site could begin as early as next year.

Many celebrities whose children were born at the Queen Mother’s hospital had backed the newspaper campaign. These included Trainspotting actor Robert Carlyle and TV celebrity Carol Smillie.

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