Campaigners fighting plans to close an East Riding cardiac unit have criticised a senior health expert's advice that the facility should move.

Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare Trust, which runs Bridlington Hospital, wants to shut the town's heart unit later this year.

Its plans have received the support of Professor Sir George Alberti, the NHS national director for emergency care and reconfiguration, who was asked to look at the closure proposal by the trust. He said facilities should be transferred to Scarborough on "safety grounds".

But today, retired headteacher John Taylor, of Lamplugh Square, Bridlington, said he disagreed with that view, saying the cardiac unit saved his life when he had a heart attack three years ago.

He is among patients from across East Yorkshire fighting to save the service, with more than 30,000 signing a petition to stop it being moved out of the town.

Mr Taylor, 80, said: "I had a heart attack at 3.30am and I was taken to Bridlington Hospital by the paramedic and there was a team of six people waiting for me.

"If I'd had to go to Scarborough, I don't think I would have got there."

Sir George visited Bridlington Hospital last year and backed Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare Trust's decision to strip the unit out of the site because of patient safety concerns.

He is due to meet GPs in the town in the next couple of weeks to discuss the plans further.

The Mail asked the professor, an expert in emergency care, for his message to campaigners desperate to prevent the unit's move.

He said: "My message would be that this would benefit and improve the quality of service for the people of Bridlington.

"You haven't got all the facilities you need for the very severely ill so Turn to Page 4

on safety grounds, they should go to Scarborough or wherever."

Asked whether he had concerns about the welfare of patients being treated at the unit, he said: "I think the doctors and nurses are doing a fantastic job, but it has to be a limited job because there aren't enough of them and they haven't got enough facilities."

The campaign to save the unit is continuing, with councillors who oversee the NHS expected to agree to refer the trust's decision to Health Secretary and Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson next week.

East Riding Councillor Ros Jump, chairwoman of the council's health watchdog, said this would be discussed at a meeting on Tuesday.

She said there had been rumours the trust was planning to close the unit in May, several months earlier than expected. She said: "We've got the staff who just want to get on with the job, but they can't."

Mick Pilling, chairman of the Save Bridlington Hospital Action Group, also disagrees with the professor's views. He said: "Patients will suffer if the unit is moved."

Trust chief executive, Iain McInnes, said: "The cardiac monitoring unit will not close at the end of May. We are working on the detailed plan needed to make the service changes in October."

The trust is set to discuss its latest plans for Bridlington Hospital at a meeting next month.

The petition will be delivered to Downing Street in a few weeks.