Almost 1,500 people added their names to calls to bring hospital services back to Hartlepool at an event over the weekend.
Volunteers from the Save Hartlepool Hospital campaign spent Saturday at Castle Dene Shopping Centre where they gathered large support from East Durham residents.
People were queuing up to signSave Hartlepool Hospital spokesman
They were joined by Mayor of Peterlee, Councillor Mary Cartwright in highlighting how the transfer of services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool affects them.
Campaigners say people in the area have to get up to five buses to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.
In total, they collected 1,428 names to the petition which will be presented later to the Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which pays for local NHS services.
Coun Cartwright said: “Here in Peterlee we have a lot of people who don’t drive and a lot of elderly and mothers with young children. It is a nightmare for them to get to North Tees.
“I class Hartlepool as the hospital for the area and we would like it back to what it was, and we want the A&E back.” The campaigners stayed for an extra two hours in the shopping centre due to the overwhelming demand from shoppers.
A Save Hartlepool Hospital spokesman said: “The response from people wanting to sign was absolutely fabulous.
“People were queuing up to sign. At one point they were three rows deep.”
Saturday’s event followed a similar exercise at Tesco in Hartlepool earlier this month when the group gathered more than 3,000 signatures over three days.