TENS of thousands of supporters have demanded the government defends 'invaluable' services at hospice charity Helen & Douglas House.

More than 20,000 people have signed a petition calling for NHS funding to help stop Douglas House in Magdalen Road from closing.

Last week the East Oxford charity announced it will shut the house in August, warning the entire hospice would be forced to close in two years if it did not take drastic action to slash expenditure.

It will spell the end of the palliative care hospice's adult services and bring 60 redundancies, but care for children will continue through neighbouring Helen House.

A petition rallying against the closure was set up on Thursday night by a former patient's parents, Adrian and Zoe Tandy, and has gained mammoth support in a matter of days.

The couple, who live near Gloucester, wrote on the petition: "We lost our 17-year-old daughter Lauren in 2015 to cancer, and were fortunate enough to spend our last week with her at Douglas House.

"The care we received was simply amazing."

Their petition calls for Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) to support Helen & Douglas House by buying its services.

Click here to sign the petition

Mrs Tandy added in an online comment: "Helen & Douglas is a wonderful facility, which most of us hope we will never have to use, especially for end of care life for our precious children.

"Unfortunately I had to and can never thank them enough for the love and support they gave us, when we had to say goodbye to our daughter.

"Children and young people's hospices are so important at the worst time in your life."

A post on Facebook page Save Douglas House, set up by the same campaigners, said: "We thought we might get a handful of friends sign it, we have been overwhelmed by the response.

"So many people can see what a terrible loss this would be."

Helen & Douglas House relies on donations to keep its services afloat, with 12 per cent of its costs covered by the NHS and local authorities.

Supporters and a trade union have already called on the government to intervene, calling for public funding to help the 'vital' hospice.

The petition is addressed to Prime Minister Theresa May and has prompted a stream of messages of support for the hospice.

One person who signed wrote: "It would be a tragedy to allow this hospice to close, [there are] so few place like this for younger people."

Another added: "Helen & Douglas House provide an invaluable service to Oxford and surrounding areas, which would be sorely missed."

One woman said the closure would 'leave families bereft of support', adding: "These services provide lifelines and allow a little respite before dealing with heart-wrenching circumstances."

Last week OCCG noted it already commissioned palliative care services for Oxfordshire patients, including through Barnardo's, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Sobell House Hospice in Headington, Sue Ryder in Nettlebed and Katharine House Hospice near Banbury.

To sign the petition, click here.

Concert fundraiser

JACKfm is also supporting Helen & Douglas House this week, by hosting a concert at The Jericho Tavern on Wednesday.

The radio station will take over the pub between 7-11pm, with a line-up of four acts scheduled to perform.

Tickets cost £5 and can be purchased here or on the door.