Fresh blow for Sudbury hospital plans

CAMPAIGNERS have been dealt a fresh blow in their 20-year fight for a new hospital in their town after Suffolk's new health chief failed to come up with the assurances they wanted.

CAMPAIGNERS have been dealt a fresh blow in their 20-year fight for a new hospital in their town after Suffolk's new health chief failed to come up with the assurances they wanted.

Town councillors in Sudbury were told by Carole Taylor-Brown, the head of the new Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), that there were “no guarantees” a new health campus would be built.

The stormy meeting with community leaders sparked fresh fears that the town could be left without a hospital.

Residents, who have battled for new facilities for three decades, now face the prospect of travelling to hospitals elsewhere in the county when the aging Walnuttree and St Leonard's hospitals are finally closed.


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The fears come just weeks after health bosses agreed to scrap massive cutback proposals and return to the drawing board.

Town councillor Ray Smith, who attended the meeting with Mrs Taylor-Brown , said: “I was very dissatisfied with what I heard - Sudbury deserves better than the PCT is offering us at the moment.

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“I am worried about the new health campus and it seems like we are not going to have anything at all.

“This new PCT seems to be ignoring Sudbury, but I think this has happened for the last 20 years.

“There is no doubt that both the Walnuttree and St Leonard's hospitals will close but we are getting no guarantees about a replacement.

“Sudbury's health staff do a fantastic job and I feel sorry for them as they are not even sure if they are going to keep their jobs - it is appalling.”

Fellow councillor Nick Irwin added: “I am worried about the future but I have to have faith that the strength of feeling in the town will win through.

“I think Mrs Taylor-Brown now knows we feel strongly about this and we are not going to be a pushover.”

Speaking last night, Mrs Taylor-Brown said: “We have been meeting various groups in recent months.

“We were grateful for the opportunity to meet informally with some of the local councils to discuss healthcare in west Suffolk. We are keen to get the right proposals and this means working closely with local people.”

Meanwhile, Suffolk MPs Richard Spring and Tim Yeo yesterday grilled Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt on the future of Newmarket and Sudbury hospitals.

West Suffolk MP Mr Spring called for an end to the “uncertainty” over health services caused by overwhelming historic debt.

“The uncertainty over the future of Newmarket Hospital has caused much distress and anguish for all the staff,” Mr Spring said.

“We should have more beds at Newmarket, not fewer, and an expansion of services to fully utilise this excellent local NHS hospital - this would be in the best interests of patients.”

David Ruffley, Bury St Edmunds MP, has launched his own petition to save the accident department in the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, which many local people fear is also under threat.

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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