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Community bid to buy small hospital

PUBLISHED: 08:20 07 December 2005 | UPDATED: 16:06 25 February 2010

CONCERNED campaigners have launched a bid to buy a community hospital from a struggling health trust in an effort to stop vital services being lost.

Residents in the seaside resort of Aldeburgh are currently putting together a set of plans to purchase the town's hospital from East Suffolk Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).

CONCERNED campaigners have launched a bid to buy a community hospital from a struggling health trust in an effort to stop vital services being lost.

Residents in the seaside resort of Aldeburgh are currently putting together a set of plans to purchase the town's hospital from East Suffolk Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).

The idea has come to light following a consultation period looking into a proposed shake-up of the east Suffolk health system - which would see the focus taken away from community hospitals and move towards care in the home.

Under the plans, which have been hastened as a result the PCTs crippling debts, it is proposed the number of beds at Aldeburgh Hospital be slashed from 36 to 20.

However, concerned residents are now thinking of buying the hospital for themselves, with any profits pumped straight back into the community to help improve existing health services.

Dr John Havard, a GP from Saxmundham and one of the brains behind the idea, said: “At the moment it is just a feeling of an idea but we are getting more support because the situation is becoming so desperate and people realise that something has to be done.

“It's really a type of ethical investment. The shareholders will come in, with their capital protected in the building and surrounding land, and any profits will be put back into the community to improve services in the area.

“I believe it would be a good solution for both parties. Not only would it help out the PCT but the community would also have much more control on the level of health care delivered in the area.”

Meanwhile Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer has also thrown his weight behind the proposals. He said: “I am really encouraged that imaginative solutions to overwhelming problems can come from the grass roots like this. Unfair funding will continue to be challenged at every opportunity but in the meantime I see this as a creative opportunity to keep care in this community.”

But Sheena Griffiths, chairman of the League of Friends of Aldeburgh Hospital, said while she welcomed the idea in principle there was still a long way to go before anything was formally decided.

“The idea is really in its very early stages at the moment,” she said. “We are still waiting for the results of the consultation period and until then we are not quite sure what the PCT will put forward - however as an interested party we will see how it develops.

“Ideally we would like those behind the new ideas to produce some kind of business plan so we can consider the proposal more because it is a very big step.”

Jan Rowsell, spokesperson for East Suffolk PCTs, said the trust would look forward to receiving an official proposal once the results on the consultation period had been announced early next year. “We will consider it very carefully indeed,” she added.

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