FIFTY THOUSAND voices with just one message – save children’s heart surgery in Southampton.

As we reach the halfway mark of the Daily Echo’s Have a Heart campaign, more than 50,000 people have signed the petition to save the threatened specialist cardiac unit at Southampton General Hospital.

But with nine weeks still to go until the end of the public consultation it is vital for the future of Ocean Ward that the signatures continue to roll in and ensure that health bosses are under no illusion about how valued the unit is.

Hospital chief Mark Hackett has thanked all those for the overwhelming support so far and believes it is sending a “resounding” message to those who hold the fate of the unit in their hands.

Despite being ranked the second best in the country our paediatric heart unit is under threat as health chiefs look to cut the UK’s 11 centres down to six or seven.

Southampton was featured in just one of four options which will be put out for public consultation, before the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts makes its final decision.

Find out more about the campaign

If Southampton closed, families would be forced to get lifesaving treatment in London or Bristol, at units which experts say fell below the “exemplary” standards that the city boasts.

So far hospital staff, schools, supermarkets, doctors surgeries and businesses from across the south have sent in their petitions, while families of those with children who have been saved by the unit, have been out in force collecting names.

In just one weekend an army of mums, dads and youngsters counted more than 3,000 signatures from those outside St Mary’s Stadium and Marks & Spencer’s and Sainsbury’s in Hedge End.

But with three-quarters of the city’s population still yet to sign up, there are plenty more who need to take action.

Mark Hackett, chief executive, said: “To reach 50,000 signatures with a long way still to go in the consultation process sends a resounding message and demonstrates how people everywhere realise how crucial it is to ensure quality remains the focal point of this consultation.

“We are delighted with the effort being made by people across the city, region and other parts of the country and we want them all to know their support means so much to our patients, families and staff members.

“However, it is absolutely crucial people continue to come forward to back the Echo’s campaign and make their views known to the review team through the safe and sustainable questionnaire.”

Daily Echo: Daily Echo Have a Heart Campaign to save paediatric heart surgery in Southampton

Download the Have a Heart petition form

Print it out, get as many signatures as you can and send it to Have a Heart, Southern Daily Echo, Test lane, Redbridge, Southampton, SO16 9JX
Daily Echo: Have a Heart poster

Download the Have a Heart poster

Print out our A4 sized Have a Heart poster