Two councils are calling on Health Minister Alan Milburn to intervene in the final decision about the future of Crawley Hospital.

Crawley and Horsham councils are supporting Mid Downs Health Council which is opposing plans to move casualty and maternity services to East Surrey Hospital, ten miles away.

Michael Sander, chief executive of Crawley Council, said a new hospital should be built in Crawley instead. He said there was "massive" public opposition to the plans and felt a new hospital for the town would be the most "appropriate" solution. He said: "The council has written to the Secretary of State asking him to intervene and determine the way forward on this matter. Horsham District Council has written similarly."

He said there remained massive public opposition to the proposals which Crawley Council did not find acceptable or the best way forward. The two councils and the CHC felt the most appropriate solution was a new hospital for the Crawley area.

A report, which goes before Crawley policy and resources committee tomorrow night, says a new hospital in the town would be easily-accessible by Mid Sussex residents, should Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath, stop functioning as an acute hospital.

It adds: "The three councils - Crawley Horsham and the Community Health Council - consider that a new hospital, centrally situated within the area of greatest population density and future growth, is the most appropriate solution for the configuration of acute services."

Crawley MP Laura Moffatt, a former nurse at Crawley Hospital, has also expressed fears about the short-term solution to improve services. She said services must be strategically planned for the future and this would show Crawley was the ideal centre for a new hospital.

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