CAMPAIGNERS are furious at Prime Minister Tony Blair for supporting ward closures at Halton Hospital.
According to a report, treatment for heart disease and strokes must be concentrated in fewer specialist centres to ensure patients receive the best care.
In a speech to health officials, Mr Blair said difficult decisions would have to be made to provide more specialist care.
Now patients with heart problems are treated at Runcorn. However, they will be taken to Warrington under sweeping changes to health provision in North Cheshire.
The comments have enraged Halton campaigners, who have been fighting for months to stop five wards being axed at Halton Hospital to make way for the transfer of emergency treatment to Warrington. As part of the changes, acute care, in particular cardiology and stroke, would be moved.
The £15m plans, which came into effect in October, will see Halton Hospital become a centre of excellence for planned surgery while Warrington General Hospital is developed as a centre of excellence for emergency medical care.
One hospital worker said: 'Blair does not know what he's talking about. You can't generalise about things like this as he does not know the ins and outs of our particular situation in Halton.'
Councillors have warned that with Halton's high rate of heart attacks and strokes, any delay in treatment could result in more fatalities.
The Prime Minister believes NHS shake-ups must be pushed through, whatever the resistance from local protest groups.