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Gazette moves to defend key services

A campaign by the Basingstoke Gazette to prevent breast screening services being closed down at the town’s hospital has received overwhelming support from readers.

The paper launched its Save Our Clinic campaign after a consultant revealed her opposition to the move, which would see women suspected of having breast cancer travelling to Winchester for further tests instead of visiting the current clinic at Basingstoke.

In a bid to stop Hampshire and Isle of Wight Health Authority from approving the controversial move, The Gazette asked readers to write in with their reasons why the service should stay in Basingstoke.

The paper printed a special coupon throughout August to encourage readers to get in touch.

By the end of the month, 2,123 readers had written in, each giving their own reason or telling how breast cancer and the clinic had affected their lives.

Gazette editor Mark Jones said: “We have been moved and overwhelmed by the sheer strength of feeling from people in the Basingstoke area.

“Breast cancer touches so many lives, and among the flood of coupons we received there were so many poignant comments – many from people who have suffered from this form of cancer or know someone who has.

“We hope that the authority will now realise that this invaluable service must not be removed.”

The coupons, plus dozens of personal letters sent in by readers, were handed over to a health authority board member by health correspondent Hugh Cadman at a public meeting to discuss the proposal, and the authority is due to decide on the matter at its meeting on October 8.

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