MP Steve Baker tonight called on the community to claim control of Wycombe Hospital if further changes brought in by the NHS “don't work”.

Chairing a meeting at Great Marlow School, he said he is “inclined to trust” health chiefs over their plans for the hospital, but urged people to take action if necessary.

The NHS in Bucks has suggested hospital sites should become more specialist and the number of beds cut.

It is currently drawing up plans under its 'Better Healthcare in Bucks' programme, and some campaigners fear this will result in more services being lost in the south of the county.

Mr Baker told the meeting: “If this goes wrong I'm going to campaign to have that hospital in some form of local mutual control....If this goes wrong we must campaign so that it's our hospital.”

A controversial consultation process in 2004, which resulted in Wycombe Hospital losing its main maternity and A&E wards, was heavily criticised at the meeting.

But Dr Graz Luzzi, medical director of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, stressed there is a new leadership in charge of the hospitals which is 'committed to engaging with the public'.

However, he said duplicating specialist services at Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville is “just not safe for patients”, meaning people will sometimes have to travel further, but the clinical outcomes are likely to be better.

Wycombe is developing as a centre of excellence for stroke, cardiology and vascular services, he added.

About 100 people turned out for the public meeting, which was staged by the Wycombe-based Save Hospital Services Committee. Other speakers included Richard Mills, a director of the NHS in Bucks, as well as SHSC members John Barlow, Terry Price and Steve Cohen.

See the Free Press next week for a full report on the meeting.