Councillor's concern over hospitals

A TOP councillor has spoken of her concern at the loss of the county's community hospital facilities, saying they are “so important” to people.Bryony Rudkin, leader of Suffolk County Council, spoke out as her authority debates setting up a working party to look in to the issues surrounding the future of the hospitals.

By John Howard

A TOP councillor has spoken of her concern at the loss of the county's community hospital facilities, saying they are “so important” to people.

Bryony Rudkin, leader of Suffolk County Council, spoke out as her authority debates setting up a working party to look in to the issues surrounding the future of the hospitals.

The community hospitals in the county, which include facilities at Southwold, Halesworth, Hartismere, Newmarket and Aldeburgh, play a vital role in helping patients recover after they leave a major hospital, but still need access to treatment and care locally.


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Earlier this year the council opposed the closure by Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust of community hospital beds in Felixstowe, saying it was “disappointed” at the lack of consultation.

And the Walnuttree Hospital in Sudbury is also threatened with closure because of fire risks - prompting the EADT and the local community to campaign to keep it open.

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Cllr Rudkin said: “We are concerned at the loss of community hospital provision because of what they represent.

“These hospitals are so important to people - it's about supporting people in their own communities without obliging them to travel.

“I understand there are constraints on health budgets, but we want to work with them, we want the best for the communities.

“There is a need for community-based services. There is a need to look at the wider picture.”

The authority's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee will debate the matter next week, before deciding whether there is a need to set up a working group to examine the situation.

In papers for the meeting, council officers write that community hospitals have an important role to play in supporting local primary care services.

They add that community hospitals allow access to beds via GPs, local diagnostic facilities, X-ray, and offer a range of outpatient facilities which all help to reduce the potential for admission to an acute hospital bed.

Officers also advise councillors that an older population in Suffolk will expand in the coming ten to 15 years and people want to continue living in their own homes and whenever possible, avoid going in to long term care. Community hospitals mainly serve those aged above 65.

The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee will meet next Monday to debate the issue .

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