Plans to hand in a 30,000-name petition directly to the Government protesting the Success Regime 's plans for health services have been scuppered.

The petition launched by the We Need West Cumberland Hospital campaign group in September last year accused the Success Regime of betraying the public with its plans to downgrade services and close beds – including sending mums more than 40 miles to give birth in Carlisle.

Combined with a further 10,000 names collected in just over two months as part of our Save Our Services campaign, it shows the scale of the opposition to the damaging proposals.

Workington MP Sue Hayman was told she could present the petition to Downing Street today at 4pm.

She invited hospital campaigner Siobhan Gearing to present the petition with her.

But they were left waiting at the gates of Downing Street for 20 minutes, before being told by a security man: "You can't come in. Today is not a good day. After Thursday would be better."

They were forced to hand it to the policeman on the Downing Street gates.

Mrs Gearing said: "I feel we have been shunned by the highest level of Government. This proves they do not care about or have any interest in West Cumbria. I am bitterly disappointed."

Mrs Hayman said: "This is not acceptable. I was given the time that we could present the petition, which has 30,000 signatures and then to be told that 'after Thursday would be better' is totally unacceptable.

"This is not about party politics. This is an issue that affects everyone. You can see that from the strength of feeling across the area.

"This is incredibly important. The last time I spoke to Sir Neil McKay, the chairman of the Success Regime, he said all communities affected by hospital issues are passionate, but he'd never met a community like west Cumbria's. I wanted the Prime Minister takes note and listen to that passion.

"Siobhan came all the way from West Cumbria for this. We were invited and then we weren't allowed in."

Mrs Hayman insists proper procedures were followed and checked ahead of the visit.

But a Downing Street spokesman said: “The presentation of petitions requires five days’ advance notice and on this occasion those procedures weren’t followed.”

Carlisle's Conservative MP John Stevenson has defended the Government, blaming Labour's Mrs Hayman for playing party politics ahead of the Copeland by-election. “Vital health services are too important to be used as a political football," he said.