Fears remaining few community beds may be scrapped by hospital bosses
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Campaigners say “alarm bells are ringing” as vital remaining hospital beds in a Suffolk town face the threat of being scrapped.
The NHS community beds in Hartismere Place care home, in Eye, are used by rehabilitation patients of Hartismere Hospital.
The care home used to house ten beds, but five were cut earlier this year - with campaigners now fearing hospital bosses will scrap the remaining few.
A meeting between members of the Hartismere Hospital League of Friends was held on Tuesday evening to discuss the future of the beds.
Pauline Diamond, secretary of the League of Friends, said: "The beds have a huge value to the community. There's nothing in north Suffolk close to them.
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"If the beds were scrapped it would be a devastating blow to vulnerable people."
Hartismere Hospital closed in 2006, at which point it was home to more than 120 beds.
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The hospital reopened in 2012, with ten rehabilitation beds commissioned to be placed in the Care UK-managed Hartismere Place care home.
Mrs Diamond, a former nurse at Hartismere Hospital, said the beds are frequently used by patients discharged from Ipswich and west Suffolk hospitals who are unable to care for themselves independently.
The League of Friends had previously met with Dr Dan Poulter, who is defending his seat in Central Suffolk and Ipswich in next month's general election, in October to highlight their concerns.
The meeting to discuss the possible closure was held at the Michael Burke Wellbeing Centre in Eye at 7pm on Tuesday.
However, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, who commission the beds at Hartismere Place, wanted to address residents' concerns.
Managing director Neil Moloney said: "We are committed to providing NHS community beds at Hartismere Place and we have a contract in place to do this.
"We know that there are concerns in the community about Hartismere Place. We are keen to explore how we can further develop services for people in the local area over the coming months and years by working with the League of Friends and the local community.
"This could be through providing more care in patients' homes and looking at other local care home options."