A PETITION calling on NHS bosses to safeguard the future of Swanage's paramedic car now has more than 5,200 signatures.

Campaigners believe the service is set to be withdrawn, despite assurances by health chiefs that no decision will be made without full discussions with the community.

Last week, during a meeting at Swanage Town Council, residents spoke about the importance of the service to the town, and a motion – proposed by town councillor Debby Monkhouse – was unanimously backed by members.

This read: "Swanage Town Council recognises that the retention of the paramedic car is vital for Swanage, and that its removal would be a threat to the lives of local people.

"This council resolves to make every effort to prevent the withdrawal of the paramedic car and to urgently contact the MP for South Dorset, Dorset People and Health Scrutiny Committee, South West Ambulance Services Trust and Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group to secure its retention.

"This council will also request a meeting with the South West Ambulance Trust and other interested parties to clarify the costs of maintaining the service and the funding options available."

Campaigners have called for residents to back calls for the retention of the service by putting campaign posters in their windows and gardens.

They are also being encouraged to share personal accounts of the paramedic car.

A joint statement from NHS Dorset CCG and the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know how important it is to the community of Purbeck to have reassurance around the ongoing provision of healthcare services in the area.

"We understand the local community are interested in the future of the rapid response vehicle.

"As part of our ongoing joint working, the healthcare system in Dorset is exploring options that best meets the needs of the local population now, and in the future, to ensure we can continue delivering excellent patient care.

"No changes will be made to the existing service until we’ve had the opportunity to engage and work with local stakeholders and representatives.”

The service has been in place since 2008, when the overnight provision at the Swanage Hospital minor injuries unit was closed.

Staffed by a single paramedic, the car is based alongside an ambulance – but campaigners say this ambulance is often elsewhere, either responding to emergencies outside the area of taking patients to hospital.

Visit Save Swanage Ambulance Car at the 38 Degrees website to sign the petition.