Health plans to go to independent review

AN independent review will be carried out on a controversial shake-up of health services in west Suffolk after being called for by the Government.Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) wants to close St Leonards Hospital in Sudbury and move services to the town's Walnuttree Hospital where bed numbers would be cut from about 30 to between 12 and 14.

AN independent review will be carried out on a controversial shake-up of health services in west Suffolk after being called for by the Government.

Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) wants to close St Leonards Hospital in Sudbury and move services to the town's Walnuttree Hospital where bed numbers would be cut from about 30 to between 12 and 14.

It also wants to move x-ray and audiology services out of town to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Money freed up by these changes would then help pay for a new healthcare team for the town and surrounding areas.


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In Newmarket, the trust wants to build on the current Newmarket Hospital to expand its bed numbers from six to as many as 14 beds and offer a range of treatment services including physiotherapy and x-rays.

In March this year, the trust's plans were referred to the Health Secretary by Suffolk's health scrutiny committee amid concerns about the lack of public support for the scheme and whether it would deliver better services for people in Sudbury.

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Health Secretary Alan Johnson has now announced he has called on the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to review the issues raised by the trust's plans.

Suffolk South MP Tim Yeo said: “I am delighted by this news. It's a reward for all the effort so many have put in.”

Peter Clifford, chairman of Sudbury's Working and Acting Together for a Community Hospital (WATCH) said: “This is good news for Sudbury and if the terms of reference are satisfactory it will give the people of Sudbury a chance to put their case directly to an independent panel.”

But the decision has left West Suffolk MP Richard Spring, who wants the Newmarket proposals to go ahead, “dismayed”.

He said: “I am really very upset that there is to be a further delay, as the proposals for Newmarket Hospital have won the approval of all people who use the hospital, those who work there and indeed correspond exactly to what the Government's view is on what a community hospital should be.”

Martin Royal, Suffolk PCT's director of business development, said: “The PCT has been made aware of the Department of Health's decision to pass the Suffolk Health Scrutiny Committee's referral to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

“The PCT respects the independent review this brings to the process and will work with the panel to enable them to complete this important task in a timely manner.”

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