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Burnley's neo-natal intensive care unit helps babies like little Katie, who is pictured being treated in a similar unit in Sunderland
Burnley's neo-natal intensive care unit helps babies like little Katie, who is pictured being treated in a similar unit in Sunderland
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Campaigners battling to keep neo-natal intensive care in Burnley are taking their fight to Number 10.

A petition to Prime Minister David Cameron has gathered more than 8,500 online signatures, despite an assurance from Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle that the unit for sick babies at Burnley General Hospital is safe.

And you can show your support by clicking here and adding your name to the petition ....

Burnley is being looked at as part of a nationwide assessment by NHS England about centralising specialisms. As the petition on internet site gained momentum Gordon Birtwistle tweeted he had been told the NICU unit was safe. “I met the new Chief Executive of East Lancashire NHS Trust who assured me there are no plans to close down Burnley neo-natal unit #Burnley”, he said.

The on-line petition was started by Amy Vincent, whose niece benefited from four weeks of specialist care. Amy said: “This unit is threatened with closure as part of an ongoing NHS review; it is a situation that could be stopped if you sign this petition. Let’s keep our specialist services in East Lancashire!

“The team are fantastic and we could not have asked for a better service. After such a traumatic time for my sister and brother in-law, to travel more than 30 miles to see their very poorly daughter would inevitably create added stress and anxiety at a time they should be with their daughter and have their full attention and love.”

Parents and relatives of former NICU patients have shared their experiences.

Mum Nicole Dornan, of Burnley, was able to spend three precious days with her son.

She said: “I had a premature baby who died when he was three days old. I would not have got three days with him if neo-natal had not been there.”

As well as praising staff, supporters drew attention to the financial burden likely to fall on families forced to travel long distances. The difficulties of travel were highlighted by grateful mum Kim Clarke. “This amazing service saved the lives of my five-month-old twin baby daughters and countless other babies while we were in there,” she said.

“I spent every day at the hospital until they came home and this would have been impossible using a service 30 miles away as I have a six year old as well.

“This is a brand new, state-of-the-art service [losing it would] not only be detrimental to hundreds of babies’ lives but what a waste of money!

Anna Rourke’s son spent 143 days in neo-natal intensive care. She said: “The team are outstanding and provide an exceptional and critical service.

“I was able to visit my son every day. Had he been at a different hospital this may not have been possible, especially as I don’t drive and wouldn’t have made it to him in times of urgency and crisis.”

Hospital workers have also added their voice to the campaign. Midwife Lynsay Ruddell said: “I see every day how vitally important these services are.”

Laurajade Kilbride has had experience working in NICU at Burnley General. “I have seen the great work the staff do on this ward,” she said. To close it would be a travesty to any new parents whose new-born needs special care. Taking away such a great ward that saves so many lives is just wrong!”

Was your child helped by the caring staff at Burnley’s NICU? We’d love to see a picture of them now ... share your photo and story with us!