Hospital beds fight heads to High Court

A PENSIONER directly hit by plans to close all inpatient beds at a community hospital has warned Suffolk health chiefs she will try to take the matter to the High Court in a bid to have it reversed.

A PENSIONER directly hit by plans to close all inpatient beds at a community hospital has warned Suffolk health chiefs she will try to take the matter to the High Court in a bid to have it reversed.

Frances Jackson said she had no choice but to take the drastic and unprecedented step - along with two other former patients of Sudbury's Walnuttree Hospital - of trying to win a judicial review into the decision.

Mrs Jackson, who suffers from post-polio syndrome and is paralysed in one leg, described the decision to axe all 32 beds at the community hospital as “deeply disappointing”.

And she said plans to replace them with at least six beds in the private sector would not be an adequate solution.


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“I have quite complex medical needs now and will have considerably more problems in the future,” said Mrs Jackson, 60, who lives in Great Cornard.

“And for people with these conditions, private beds in care homes are not going to cater for them. I didn't want the matter to have to go to judicial review but we need the right hospital facilities and now is the time to stand up and be counted.”

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The legal process - which could end up in a High Court battle - began yesterday when Suffolk West Primary Care Trust and the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority were notified of the decision.

And Suffolk County Council's overview and scrutiny committee has also been written to after members opted not to refer the PCT decision to the Secretary of State.

Mrs Jackson, a Cornard parish councillor and a member of the Walnuttree Hospital Action Committee, added: “We are not trying to save the hospital- all we want is the necessary health facilities in this area to cope with future needs.”

Mrs Jackson, Mary Jarmin, who lives in Sudbury, and Lavenham resident Edith Turner have all instructed solicitors to begin judicial review proceedings.

London-based Leigh Day & Co was last night unable to say how long the legal process might take - although the firm has given health bosses seven days to respond in the first instance.

In a letter to health chiefs they said: “These patients are dependent on the services provided by Walnuttree Hospital. Given their age and present medical conditions, it is extremely likely that they will need inpatient facilities in the future and they are very concerned about the decision taken by the PCT to close all NHS beds.

“We consider the decision taken by the PCT to be unlawful and have requested their confirmation that no steps will be taken to implement the changes.”

A spokesman for the PCT said: “We can confirm we have received a letter yesterday and we are now looking into the matter.”

No one from the overview and scrutiny committee or the SHA was available for comment yesterday.

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