PROTESTERS fighting to save Ealing Hospital descended on the town hall this week to call on councillors for their full backing.
Around 30 people faced the cold to demonstrate with banners reading 'save our hospital' on Tuesday night.
Patients, staff and local GPs fear the proposed merger with Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow, could leave Ealing without an accident and emergency department and no in-patient beds.
Dr Onkar Sahota, a GP based in Hanwell, presented a petition of nearly 4,000 signatures before a full council calling for cross-party support to save the vital service.
Dr Sahota, who is also the Labour candidate to represent Ealing and Hillingdon at the Greater London Authority, said: "I have nothing against mergers if they reduce management costs and put more money into frontline services. However, this merger is about reducing investment and threatening services.
"It is the result of unprecedented and unnecessarily deep cuts in public services by the Conservative-led government."
An NHS report released last month detailed four options for the merger between Ealing Hospital Trust and North West London Hospitals Trust, which runs Northwick Park, Central Middlesex and St Marks hospitals.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel Bakhai called on all parties to write a joint letter to Ealing Hospital Trust urging it to keep Ealing running as a district general hospital, which was welcomed by all.
Councillor Jasbir Anand, cabinet member for health, said: "We cannot let our borough, with more than 300,000 people, not have a single in-patient hospital bed."
She also argued that Ealings sound financial position would be used to prop up Northwicks debt.
Patient group member Dilmohan Singh Bhasin, who joined the protest, said residents will struggle to get to Northwick Park if services are moved.
"People will have to travel further afield and have to take three buses to get there and people whose needs are greater will not be able to do that," he said.
A spokeswoman for Ealing Hospital Trust said no decision has yet been made, but both trusts are developing a business case for the merger, which is to be presented next March.
If this is agreed a merger could begin by next July.
She added: "In early 2012, the primary care trusts that serve north west London will commence a full consultation process to ascertain the best way of delivering high standards of health care to the people of the area."