Fundraisers in new x-ray row

FUNDRAISERS in north Suffolk are still waiting for modern x-ray equipment at their local hospital despite raising more than £500,000 in the past five years.

FUNDRAISERS in north Suffolk are still waiting for modern x-ray equipment at their local hospital despite raising more than £500,000 in the past five years.

The League of Friends of the Patrick Stead Hospital at Halesworth has wanted to renew the x-ray facilities at the town's community hospital for some time.

Over the past five years £500,000 has been raised and set aside for the project but changes in the hospital's administration have led to delays.

The league's chairman, Les Hills, said: "There is a great need to have the x-ray equipment at the Patrick Stead improved.

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"When people in the area need larger or more complicated x-rays they have to travel to Gorleston, Ipswich or Norwich," he said.

The league of friends at Halesworth has also been promised support from the friends of the nearby community hospitals at Beccles and Southwold.

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"People living in the Beccles and Southwold area would also find it much more convenient to have x-rays taken at Halesworth than the present long trips to the larger hospitals.

"The GPs in the area are also very supportive of plans to update the x-ray equipment at the Patrick Stead," said Mr Hills.

The money has been raised in a wide variety of ways by the supporters of the Halesworth hospital and includes a number of bequests.

In recent years there have been a number of changes affecting the administration of the community hospitals and this is believed to have led to a delay in reaching a decision about the x-ray equipment.

"There have been at least three changes of administration in the past few years and this certainly has not helped the situation.

"We are in contact with the Waveney Primary Care Trust and hope to have news about updating the x-ray equipment shortly," said Mr Hills.

He said it was difficult for many people living in the Halesworth area, particularly the elderly, to have to make a 50-mile round-trip to hospitals at Gorleston or Ipswich in order to have an x-ray taken.

A spokesman for Waveney PCT said he appreciated the frustration felt by the league of friends and its supporters but it would be unwise for the trust to make such a major commitment at this time.

"Waveney PCT was formed in April 2002 and a major review of health service provision in the area is currently being carried out.

"The review is due to be completed by February or March next year and then we will be in a much better position to make sure that money is spent wisely to provide the best possible health care for the people of Waveney," he said.

The spokesman said that the PCT was extremely grateful for all the support it receives from the community hospital league of friends and other health service supporters.

"The acting chief executive of the PCT has written to the Patrick Stead Hospital League of Friends about this issue to explain the current position.

"We value their support tremendously and we hope they understand the position the trust is in," said the spokesman.

Waveney NHS Primary Care Trust was formed following the merger of the South Waveney Primary Care Group and the Lowestoft PCT.

It has its headquarters in Lowestoft and is responsible for a population of 125,000 people who mainly live in the area covered by Waveney District Council.

It has the responsibility for providing community services including health visitors, district nurses and occupational therapists as well as running the three community hospitals at Halesworth, Beccles and Southwold.

The trust arranges for services to be provided by doctors, dentists and opticians and also pays for services that the local population receives at the larger hospitals including the James Paget at Gorleston.


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