Trusts have dismissed claims that plans to downgrade two accident and emergency departments could threaten emergency services at Britain's busiest airports.

Pressure group London Health Emergency claimed that Heathrow would 'lose its immediate casualty and intensive care cover' under one set of proposals to merge the A&E department at Ashford Hospital with St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey.

It also claimed that Crawley Hospital, which provides cover for Gatwick, was scheduled to see its casualty and intensive care units closed and merged with those of East Surrey Hospital in Redhill.

'These hospital rationalisation plans are madness,' said campaigns director Geoff Martin. 'They make a mockery of disaster planning.'

But a spokesperson for Ashford and St Peter's Hospital trust said: 'Ashford has never been the main receiving hospital for major incidents at Heathrow.

Ashford will continue to receive day-to-day casualties and support Hillingdon Hospital in dealing with major incidents.'

'Ashford Hospital will retain a consultant-led casualty team but would no longer treat an estimated 2,000 of the most serious cases each year.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare trust said it was consulting on plans to move A&E and intensive care from its Crawley Hospital site to East Surrey Hospital.

But a spokesperson said it was 'a bigger site and a centre of excellence', better suited to dealing with major incidents at Gatwick.