HEALTH campaigners have begun a series of weekly protests against cuts at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

The Save our Bolton NHS group is asking residents to show their support every Wednesday until the start of July.

The campaigners are worried that as many as 50 beds could be lost at the hospital, as health bosses try to plug an £83 million funding gap and move more care into the community.

Group spokesman Christine Howarth said: “We had 20 people there for the protest this week and it was very well received — there were lots of toots from the cars passing by.

“Our major concern is the plan to cut up to 50 beds. The plan only says that they want a smaller hospital, but I was at the CCG meeting where it was said that they had identified 50 elderly patients who could be discharged if only they had somewhere to send them.

“We want to make clear that we have extreme concerns over this. It is not just going to affect Bolton, what if there are also ‘black alerts’ in Wigan or Salford?

“We want to draw attention to these risks. It is a government policy that the CCG is doing its best to adhere to, but we need to question the safety of this policy.”

A protest will be held at 2pm every Wednesday until July 5, the day that the NHS was founded in 1948. She added: “If we have a smaller hospital, that means that — because emergency cases will have to come first — people who have planned operations are going to have to wait longer and longer.

“The NHS is the infrastructure on which everyone depends — workers, families, elderly people — and its foundations are being chipped away at.

“That is a very dangerous thing to do and that is why we hope people will join us for these protests.”