Campaigners march to save hospital

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a threatened community hospital will today make a direct, last-ditch plea to Health Minister Patricia Hewitt.South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo will join Lord Hart of Chilton and Lord Phillips of Sudbury to discuss the future of health services in Sudbury with the minister on the same day protesters descend on the capital.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a threatened community hospital will today make a direct, last-ditch plea to Health Minister Patricia Hewitt.

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo will join Lord Hart of Chilton and Lord Phillips of Sudbury to discuss the future of health services in Sudbury with the minister on the same day protesters descend on the capital.

Members and supporters of the Walnuttree Hospital Action Committee (WHAC) are expected to join thousands of like-minded campaigners to march against small hospital closures.

Coaches from Newmarket, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Aldeburgh and Eye are all expected to join hundreds of campaigners marching on the Houses of Parliament today as part of a rally organised by Community Hospitals Acting Nationally Together (CHANT).


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Lord Phillips said: “Our argument is impregnable and tomorrow we will find out if this consultation is a farce.

“We have a fast growing town with fast growing medical needs which is about to be stripped of two hospitals - it is total nonsense.”

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Campaigners from across Suffolk are gearing themselves up for a second onslaught on the capital - having already protested outside the Department of Health, and handing in petitions, containing thousands of signatures, in protest against the cutbacks.

Mr Yeo said: “I don't know if we can change the Secretary of State's mind but we have a chance. It is helpful we have secured this meeting and it is an opportunity to press our cause. In the consultation, the arguments of the Suffolk West Primary Care Trust have been defeated.

“I would like to get a clear answer from the minister now we have had nine months to consider these proposals which counter to patient choice, would clearly damage services and patient care.

“The county council social services budget is also under pressure and these plans would add more pressure on services which they would not be able to cope with. If the consultation was genuine they need to withdraw the proposals.”

Health bosses have outlined a series of cutbacks to services in a bid to ease financially crippling debts - but putting the future of a number of community hospitals in doubt, including the Walnuttree.

Campaigners now hope the march - along with fresh petitions calling for Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to look at different options - will make a difference.

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