DEFIANT cries of “no” echoed out around Lowestoft town centre as about 100 people turned out for a rally to oppose the proposed cuts to mental health care services across Norfolk and Suffolk.

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Former Waveney MP Bob Blizzard organised the weekend protest following the announcement by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust that would eventually lead to jobs being axed and beds cut.

With proposals to axe 502 jobs over the next four years and cut in-patient beds from 375 to 289 – which decreases from 225 beds to 172 in Norfolk and Waveney, and from 150 to 117 in Suffolk – the protesters expressed horror at the plans.

Calling on everyone to “continue to fight,” the rally included speeches from Mr Blizzard, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, John Waters, the chairman of the Friends of Carlton Court Hospital, Sandy Martin, the leader of Suffolk County Council’s Labour group, and Pat Cruse, the Care Centre Manager at Crossroads in Lowestoft.

Mr Blizzard said that these were “devastating cuts,” which “concern everybody in the community”.

A Trust spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring the services we provide meet the needs of local people, we also have to ensure we can afford to pay for these services both now and in the future.

“Our service strategy sets out plans to ensure we achieve both these things and as we are still in the consultation phase, no firm decisions have been made.

“We will consult with anyone affected.”

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