HUNDREDS of health campaigners will today urge the Government to reverse a decision to downgrade a key general hospital.
Mallow General Hospital -- like Roscommon, Loughlinstown and Bantry hospitals -- will be effectively downgraded by the loss of its accident and emergency department.
It will instead operate a medical assessment unit and urgent care centre -- both of which will be operational 12 hours daily, seven days a week.
But all major trauma incidents will be referred, from November, to Cork University Hospital (CUH).
Supporters of Mallow Hospital have warned that the downgrading will strip the area of a crucial medical resource.
Cork East TD Sandra McLellan (SF) said the hospital's only hope now lies in a massive public protest campaign,
"Over 100,000 people are living in Mallow's catchment area and we need every single one of those to now make their voices heard," she said.
The protest -- to be staged at 2pm today outside the hospital -- is the first in a series of rolling protests aimed at forcing the Government to retain A&E services at Mallow.
A similar protest took place outside Loughlinstown Hospital in Dublin yesterday.