HEALTH and anti-cuts campaigners delivered a petition with around 5,000 signatures to NHS bosses on Thursday, September 27.

The petition called for community health services to be retained within the NHS rather than outsourced to private sector companies.

It was handed over to health chiefs just six days before a consultation on the future of the countyÕs health services closed.

The consultation, which finished today (Wednesday October 3), had given respondents two options.

Option one was for the creation of a new standalone NHS trust, which would see services kept within the public sector.

While option two was for a tender process, which would allow private firms to bid to takeover the running of health services.

James Beecher, of Stroud Against the Cuts, said: "We have received a lot of support for our campaign for local health services to be kept in the NHS rather than put out to tender."

Becky Parish, deputy director for public and patients engagement at NHS Gloucestershire, said: "During the engagement period to date, NHS Gloucestershire has received a significant level of feedback from the public and staff regarding the future management of its community health services.

"Feedback has taken the form of online and freepost survey responses, direct correspondence and comment cards, as well as the petition submitted to the NHS Gloucestershire board meeting last week.

"That feedback is being collated and, following the end of the engagement period, will be analysed and presented in an Outcome of Engagement Report, which the NHS Gloucestershire board will consider at its meeting on October 15.

"NHS Gloucestershire would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has responded to date."