WITH just 10 days to go, campaigners battling to stop Poole Hospital's A&E and maternity departments from closing down need another £1,000 to fund their legal costs.

Defend Dorset NHS needs the money to pay for its part of the legal action which will see the controversial plans examined in a Judicial Review at the High Court in London.

Supporter Siobhan Coleman said: “People have been giving us £5 and £10 with the odd £50 but time’s running out to raise the money so we’re on a last-minute push. We need to have what's known as a stretch amount, to ensure everything will be fully covered which is why we're asking for this extra sum.”

The money will be used to pay the campaign’s lawyers, Leigh Day, who helped prevent London’s Lewisham Hospital from closing in 2013 – seen by health campaigners and trade unions as a major blow against government health cuts.

The fact that a review has been allowed means that DDNHS’s claims – and those of a personal litigant who has been legally-aided – are considered worthy of judicial scrutiny to ensure the law has been correctly applied, and the right procedures followed by the NHS bodies involved in the merger and closure plans.

DDNHS believes they have not, and that proper consideration has not been given to the effect the merger plans will have.

According to DDNHS the proposals leave: “Tens of thousands of Dorset residents without access to A&E and maternity services within the 'golden hour', and will lead to the lives of many patients being unnecessarily put at risk.”

The group plans to challenge the logistics of the closure plans and is hoping to have the authorities’ claims about replacement services looked into at the hearing, which is slated for May.

News of a possible review came last month when it was revealed that a Poole hospital patient suffering with a chronic illness had secured legal aid to challenge the merger. She feared it would cost her her life, as she needs extensive medication and regular ambulance visits to Poole from her home in Purbeck.

At the time, RBCH chief executive Tony Spotswood warned that the judicial review could delay the reorganisation or even send NHS planners back to the drawing board, which, he claimed, would “delay the benefits for patients”.

People wishing to donate to DDNHS's fighting fund can do so at: crowdjustice.com/case/save-poole-ae-and-maternity-and-nhs-beds.