Health boss quits in protest at cuts

A "DEVASTATED" health chief has quit his post in protest at hospital cuts designed to rein in the region's £42.5 million debts.Colin Spence, a board member of the Suffolk West Primary Care Trust, was on holiday while his colleagues endorsed moves to close beds at the Walnuttree Hospital, Sudbury and Newmarket Hospital with the loss of around 220 jobs.

A "DEVASTATED" health chief has quit his post in protest at hospital cuts designed to rein in the region's £42.5 million debts.

Colin Spence, a board member of the Suffolk West Primary Care Trust, was on holiday while his colleagues endorsed moves to close beds at the Walnuttree Hospital, Sudbury and Newmarket Hospital with the loss of around 220 jobs.

Mr Spence, county councillor for Sudbury and a member of Babergh District Councill, was "shocked and devastated" when he returned home on Wednesday to learn the extent of the cuts and immediately resigned.

He told the EADT: "I was away on holiday when this all broke and it all came as a complete shock when I came home and discovered what had happened."


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He added: "I can't be part of it because I feel we, the community, have been extremely let down and I don't want to be a part of that collective decision."

Mr Spence, who has been a member of the PCT since its inception three years ago and was involved with its predecessors for there years before that, said he felt he could not be a party to the cuts, in particular to the Walnuttree Hospital.

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He added: "A few days before I went away I was aware that a team from the Strategic Health Authority had been sent in to meet with executive staff and were closeted away going through the books and come up with a financial recovery plan.

"The chairman had said nothing could be ruled out and he had told me they would look at everything, but I only went away on the 20th and came back on the 29th, the day of the meeting, which I wasn't able to attend, which gives some idea of how quickly things moved, when I found out I was both shocked and devastated."

Mr Spence said he had been to a meeting just three weeks ago when a detailed presentation had been given on the new multi-million pound hospital Sudbury residents had been expecting to be built in 2007 and at which there was no suggestion this would no longer be the case.

"I have to stand with my community, after all just last year the people of Sudbury and the surrounding area fought to save the Walnuttree, and now this has happened, it is a huge blow and the community has been severely let down," he added.

Fellow county councillor Peter Beer has called for the rest of the board to follow suit and resign, but said he will closely watch the response of MP Tom Yeo's negotiations with the Department of Health before pursuing the matter through official channels.

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