Fight to save hospitals intensifies

CAMPAIGNERS opposing the closure of two Suffolk hospitals last night vowed to fight the plans until the bitter end.The Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) is expected to authorise the sale of the Bartlet Hospital, in Felixstowe, and Hartismere Hospital, in Eye, on Wednesday.

CAMPAIGNERS opposing the closure of two Suffolk hospitals last night vowed to fight the plans until the bitter end.

The Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) is expected to authorise the sale of the Bartlet Hospital, in Felixstowe, and Hartismere Hospital, in Eye, on Wednesday.

The move, intended to ease multi-million pound debts, looks set to be pushed through despite a wave of public protest against it.

Helen Tucker, a committee member of the Hartismere Hospital League of Friends, said every possible avenue was being explored in the battle, including legal action.

She said: “What the PCTs are doing is totally inappropriate and premature.

”One of the things we're particularly concerned about is they haven't really listened to the outcome of the public consultation.

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”We're still pressing on and we are taking legal advice. As far as we're concerned what is PCTs are proposing will not provide care for anyone in the community.

“They've failed to reassure the public that what they're planning to do is right. I think it's extraordinary they're doing this.”

Peter Mellor, of Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals, was in a similarly bullish mood.

He said: “The cards are stacked against us but we will fight on. Nearly the whole population in Suffolk has come out and told the PCTs they don't agree with their plans.

“When you're in hospital you're always within earshot of help but when you're at home that help, if you can raise it, can be hours away.”

Included on the list of services likely to be cut is the Hayward day hospital, at Ipswich Hospital, along with the Hollies employment project and the Pines occupational therapy facility, both at St Clement's Hospital, Ipswich.

Stowmarket's Old Fox Yard clubhouse, the Bridge House clubhouse, in Ipswich, and day hospitals in Kesgrave, Saxmundham and Violet Hill Road, Stowmarket are also under threat, as are NHS beds at Aldeburgh Hospital.

A final decision on plans, which focus on care in the community, will be taken at a meeting of the PCTs on Wednesday.

Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of the organisation, said: “The proposals focus on a different way of care - providing more care closer to home through local care teams, rather than traditional bed-based services.

”We clearly recognise the speed of change is a major concern to people and in response we're recommending a longer 'changeover' or transitional period, putting in more safeguards.”

She added: “What is being proposed is different to what people are familiar with and we appreciate the passion that people have for their community hospitals such as Aldeburgh, The Bartlet, in Felixstowe and Hartismere Hospital, in Eye.

“We need to do much more work in building our community's confidence in new services such as day treatment centres.”

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