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Up to 10,000 marched through central Dunedin at lunchtime today protesting the possible loss of neurosurgery services.
Starting in the Octagon, the protest was led by Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin and Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt, and finished with the crowd encircling Dunedin Hospital.
Mr Chin said he and the region's other mayors want to send a strong message to the Government that the proposal is not acceptable.
The protest follows an independent report's suggestion to put all six of the South Island's neurosurgeons in Canterbury.
The five South Island DHBs have agreed on centralising South Island neurosurgery but cannot agree on how it will be organised.
Canterbury District Health Board wants all six neurosurgeons in Christchurch, while the Southern District Health Board wants two of the six Dunedin-based.
Southland and Otago are joining forces in a bid to save neurosurgery in their regions.
About 1000 people attended a public meeting in Dunedin last night, and passed a resolution demanding retention of the services.