Campaigners reveal DIY hospital plan
DETERMINED campaigners last night vowed to build a new hospital for their town themselves after years of broken promises from local health bosses.Fresh hopes for a new hospital in Sudbury, boasting inpatient beds and a swathe of outpatient facilities, were revealed by action group members and given public backing at a packed annual town meeting.
DETERMINED campaigners last night vowed to build a new hospital for their town themselves after years of broken promises from local health bosses.
Fresh hopes for a new hospital in Sudbury, boasting inpatient beds and a swathe of outpatient facilities, were revealed by action group members and given public backing at a packed annual town meeting.
After years of fighting health cuts and closures in the town, community leaders are determined they can harness “people power” to build the new unit health chiefs have failed to provide.
Peter Clifford, chairman of the Walnuttree Hospital Action Committee set up to fight the closure of Sudbury's existing hospital, said he was confident a social enterprise scheme - similar to those advocated by central government - was the way forward.
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“I feel very positive about the future and the meeting showed how strong the community spirit in Sudbury is,” Mr Clifford said. “We have been working on alternatives for a long time and we now have a mandate from the public to turn these plans into reality.
“Although Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) is responsible for supplying money for services, we can work without them, in terms of capital funding, if we have to.”
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Although avenues of funding and locations are still under discussion, Mr Clifford said the current Walnuttree Hospital was one possible site for development.
He also identified two further areas - Harps Close Meadow and Churchfields Road - which have both been touted in the past as suitable locations for a new hospital.
Hundreds of staff, patients and residents in the Sudbury area packed into the town hall to hear the new proposals and plans for the future at the annual town meeting.
They came after plans to create a “healthcare hub”, outlined by PCT bosses, were referred to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt amid concerns they were too vague.
Chief campaigner, South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo, said: “We have been successful in preventing the PCT from closing the hospitals and I think everyone now supports the plans to develop an alternative development.
“We will now work in more detail to try and find a suitable site for a replacement hospital with inpatient beds and outpatient facilities - this has to be an integral part of the scheme and I am hopeful we can achieve that.
“We want to get the PCT to listen to us but if not, we might have to go over their heads and take our social enterprise model to central government.”
PCT chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown said: “We know how important healthcare provision is for the people of Sudbury, which is why we are planning a strong community presence through the proposed NHS locality healthcare teams.
“At the moment, we are not looking for organisations outside the NHS to provide these vital services anywhere in Suffolk.
“However, the PCT's board will consider commissioning alternative providers, including social enterprise ventures in the longer term, provided they meet the required standards and patterns of care that the PCT require.”