A petition urging the Scottish Government not to U-turn on plans to build a life-saving medical unit in the north-east has reached its target of more than 1,000 signatures in just five days.
There is growing concern that Aberdeen could lose out to Edinburgh and Glasgow when the final decision is made on where to open specialist trauma centres.
More than 50 senior doctors at NHS Grampian signed an open letter urging the government to honour its 2014 commitment to open a facility at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Consultant surgeon Simon Baker warned services would be put “in jeopardy” without the trauma centre.
His comments were echoed by ARI’s former medical director, Dr Donnie Ross, who warned ARI was being “degraded” by the “centralising agenda” of the SNP.
Health Secretary Shona Robison has insisted “all options remain on the table” and “no final decisions have been made”, while Public Health Minister Maureen Watt rejected accusations health services were being centralised.
Scottish Labour’s Aberdeen Central candidate Lewis Macdonald, started the petition “to guarantee that ARI will remain at the cutting edge of modern medicine”.
He said: “The fact that it has only taken five days to meet our original target of 1,000 signatures shows just how concerned the people of Aberdeen and the north-east are about the consequences if ARI does not become one of Scotland’s major trauma centres.
“Support has come from across the north of Scotland and beyond, and from across the political spectrum. The future status of ARI, and the future of healthcare services in the NHS Grampian region are clearly issues that strike a chord with a lot of people.
“We have now set a new target of 2,500 signatures, to give local residents who have not yet added their support the opportunity to do so.”
But SNP politicians have rejected the notion that they are centralising services or that the trauma centre at ARI will not be built.
Ms Robison said: “No final decisions about the number of trauma centres have been made.”
Ms Watt added: “It is simply untrue to claim there are plans to centralise services in the central belt.”
The petition can be signed at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ari-major-trauma-centre.