Beds reopened at Sudbury hospital

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed plans to reopen beds at a Suffolk hospital eight months after they were closed.The loss of three beds at Sudbury's Walnuttree Hospital in January was severely criticised by campaigners, who feared for their long-term future.

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed plans to reopen beds at a Suffolk hospital eight months after they were closed.

The loss of three beds at Sudbury's Walnuttree Hospital in January was severely criticised by campaigners, who feared for their long-term future.

Sudbury Watch health campaigners had vowed legal action over the move they branded a “stealth closure” - an accusation denied by health chiefs.

Peter Clifford, chairman of Sudbury Watch, claimed the reversal showed the Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) decision had been forced by impending legal action in October.


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“We are extremely pleased that the PCT has seen sense and will re-open the three beds that they closed in January,” he said.

“We hope that they will now remain open until new facilities in Sudbury are in place and that further legal action will not be necessary.”

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London solicitors Leigh Day and Co had filed for a judicial review claiming the cutbacks were unlawful as the decision was taken without public consultation.

Campaigners argued it was important the beds were retained as without them elderly patients and their families might have to travel to hospitals in Newmarket or Bury St Edmunds.

John Such, chief operating officer for the PCT, said the closures had been temporary because of sickness and maternity leave.

He said: “It was always our intention to re-open them as soon as it was safe to do so. We regularly reviewed the decision and, when it became clear that the situation was not going to change, we took an early decision in May to recruit to cover the vacant posts.

“With the additional 1.73 full time equivalent qualified nursing staff we can safely provide 29 beds at Walnuttree from August 13.

“Operational decisions, like this one, are made by clinicians every day across the NHS to maintain patient safety and good care.”

Suffolk PCT had announced plans for a new healthcare hub in Sudbury centring on a number of outpatient facilities and a few inpatient beds in a community facility.

But the new proposals have been referred to the Health Secretary after members of the Suffolk Health Scrutiny Committee said they were too vague.

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