A regional daily’s petition to save a childrens’ cardiac care unit has been hailed as one of the biggest of all time by the Newspaper Society.
It launched lanched its campaign after the unit was put under threat when health bosses launched a national review of the specialist centres which could see 11 units nationally cut to six or seven and the Southampton centre, currently the second best in the country, closed.
Lynne Anderson, Newspaper Society communications director, said: “The Southern Daily Echo’s campaign to save the local children’s cardiac care unit is a truly outstanding example of the regional press doing what it does best – campaigning on the issues that matter to its readers and giving them a powerful voice.
“Securing 225,000 signatures is a remarkable effort and one of the largest numbers we are aware of in recent years for a regional press petition.”
Daily Echo news editor Gordon Sutter added: “This shows the power of the regional press and is exactly the kind of thing we should be doing – fighting for an extremely worthwhile cause that is close to the heart of the community.
“Now we just hope that the Prime Minister listens to the people of the south by intervening and making sure the unit is saved.”
The petition was handed in to Downing Street by Daily Echo Health reporter Melanie Adams along with campaigners, hospital bosses and a number of the south’s MPs.
The four-month consultation by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts into children’s heart units closes on July 1.