Campaigners will march through the city centre this evening to oppose planned changes to the A&E department at Broomfield Hospital.
The protesters will meet at 6pm at the Shire Hall end of the High Street before heading to the Civic Centre where they will present a 3,000-strong petition to Chelmsford City Council, ahead of the Cabinet meeting.
It follows a public meeting on Thursday evening, which was attended by nearly 100 people.
The changes proposed by the Success Regime would see A&E departments at Broomfield, Basildon and Southend focus on different clinical areas, with only one remaining as a specialist A&E centre. Yesterday, it was revealed that an expert panel of doctors has recommended this role should be fulfilled by Basildon Hospital.
The Defend Our A&E protest group believes the proposals will lead to the A&E department at Broomfield being downgraded, although this has been disputed by Chelmsford MP Sir Simon Burns.
Defend Our A&E spokesperson Andy Abbott said: “We fully appreciate our city council has no direct power over this. But we want them to stick up for the people of Chelmsford and exert some pressure.
“The longer journey time to Basildon will put Chelmsford residents’ lives at risk. As a hospital doctor told us while we were campaigning, if somebody has a heart attack in Chelmsford, they’ll be dead before they reach Basildon.”
The signatures on the petition have been collected over Saturday lunchtimes in Chelmsford High Street since the end of November, with at least 400 people signing during each hour and a half stint. A separate online petition – https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/defend-our-a-e-broomfield – launched by the campaign, that will be going to Sir Simon Burns and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has now amassed more than 16,000 signatures.