Marlborough residents fear people will be put off living in their area if surgical services are cut at Wairau Hospital.
More than 500 residents and hospital staff attended a meeting at the Marlborough convention centre in Blenheim on Tuesday night to discuss a review of Marlborough District Health Board services in the region.
One of the options is to close the acute surgical and orthopaedic units at Wairau Hospital and transfer patients to Nelson for operations.
Many at the meeting said that would cost lives.
Dr Linda Scott-Kelly said the possibility of health services being cut is a matter of life and death. She said the DHB must listen to the fears of hospital staff and residents before any final decisions are made.
Grey Power and Marlborough Chamber of Commerce are also worried that a lack of surgical services in the region could put people off living there.