Halesworth urged to remain vigilant over future of Patrick Stead Hospital

.The Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth.
Photo: Nick Butcher
Copy: Sarah Brealey
For: EDP / Weeklies

.The Patrick Stead Hospital, Halesworth. Photo: Nick Butcher Copy: Sarah Brealey For: EDP / Weeklies EDP pics � 2007 (01603) 772434 - Credit: EDP pics � 2007

Community leaders and concerned patients have raised fears for the future of a Suffolk hospital.

Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth was the subject of heated discussion at an unofficial annual parish meeting held recently in the town.

The hospital closed its inpatient beds for four months over winter due to staff shortages. Although it reopened again at the beginning of this months, several people at the meeting said it was important to remain vigilant about the future of health services in the town.

Ezra Leverett, chairman of the Halesworth and Blyth Valley Partnership, who campaigned for the hospital to reopen, said it was important to ensure the hospital “is not closed by the backdoor”.

He highlighted previous “promises” that had been made by health providers to provide more beds when other services were cut, which he said had not been delivered.

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“This is the second time Patrick Stead has closed because of staff shortages and it’s strange that Halesworth seems to be the only one that does,” he added.

Another speaker said no one in the room “can sit back and relax” about the hospital.

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“We really need to be on the ball about the health care that’s available,” they added.

Jacqueline Wagner, a town councillor, said she was “frustrated” by the closure and suggested inviting representatives from NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, which runs the hospital, to meet with people in Halesworth.

“We should ask these people to come down and not be so faceless so we can tell them exactly what the hospital means to us,” she added.

Andy Evans, chief executive of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, speaking after the meeting highlighted a 13 week Shape of the System consultation, which starts in June and will look at how all services, including the hospital, can improved to meet patients’ needs.

“With regards to Halesworth our clear intention has always been to provide care of the right level under the supervision of Cutler’s Hill GPs,” he added.

“Sometimes that might be at home, sometimes where extra care is needed in a local bed and sometimes it will be in the James Paget Hospital. In all cases we will be seeking to keep people as close to home as possible but ensuring that patients get the care that they need.”

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