500 sign petition over Harwich hospital

A PETITION was launched at the weekend by councillors angry about the failings of an Essex town's hospital.

James Hore

A PETITION was launched at the weekend by councillors angry about the failings of an Essex town's hospital.

Harwich's Fryatt Hospital and Mayflower Medical Centre first opened its doors three years ago but the long-awaited project has been beset with problems preventing it from ever becoming fully operational.

Work is due to begin today to replace a section of flooring which means patients will have to go elsewhere for treatment.

Stephen Henderson, the leader of Harwich's Town Council, and other members of the Community Representatives Party were at the Michaelstowe Hall car boot sale, in Ramsey, on Saturday collecting signatures and answering questions.

Mr Henderson said there was a lot of anger and frustration among the people he had spoken to.

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He said: “The response has been fantastic - from 9am to noon we collected more than 500 signatures, calling for the hospital to be fully operational with all the services that were promised in place.

“We have been told the work will be starting on Monday, which is ironic because once we started the petition all of a sudden works are suddenly beginning.

“Hopefully we will collect a large number of signatures and even if the work has started when we hand it in, we will say how this represents the feeling of the people of Harwich, Dovercourt and the surrounding area.”

The 12 weeks of work means a “minimal” number of patients will need to go elsewhere - including inpatients on the Trinity Ward and expectant mothers due to give birth while the maternity ward is temporarily closed.

Tonia Parsons, project director at the North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT), said: “An awful lot of hard work has gone into carefully planning these works so they cause minimal disruption to our patients.

“Our plan has always been to maintain, wherever possible, a full patient service and we are confident that, together with our partners, we have come up with the best possible solution.

“In essence, only a very small percentage of the patients using the Fryatt Hospital will need to go elsewhere, with the vast majority able to access the services offered on site as normal.

“Although we will have to temporarily close the inpatient and maternity wards, we plan to do so for the shortest time possible to keep any disruption to a minimum.

“We will also be carrying out a full deep cleaning program before these areas reopen to the public to prevent any further disruption.

“We would like to apologise in advance to those patients affected and thank them for their patience while we carry out these essential works.”

n Patients who want more information about the changes can call the PCT's helpline on 07736 963914.