Judicial review bid set to be abandoned

CAMPAIGNERS look set to abandon their bid for a judicial review over a town's one-stop health shop funding snub – but have vowed to continue their fight for the centre.

By Sarah Chambers

CAMPAIGNERS look set to abandon their bid for a judicial review over a town's one-stop health shop funding snub – but have vowed to continue their fight for the centre.

The news comes as a widow offered to put up £5,000 towards the cost of a judicial review because she feels so strongly that the scheme, at Saxmundham, should go ahead.

The board of the cash-strapped Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust decided last month not to award the extra funding needed for the proposed innovative health and social care centre after being told it presented "an unacceptable level of financial risk".


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The Brook Farm Residents' Association at Saxmundham has been running a "pledge a pound" campaign to build up a fighting fund to take the issue to judicial review, and have paid £1,250 in legal advice so far.

Taking it to the next stage is expected to cost somewhere in the region of £15,000, and campaigners must decide by mid-May whether to press ahead.

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Don Tricker, chairman of the association, said they had not raised enough to go forward, and did not want individuals risking large sums of money on a legal fight, which was why they had asked for small donations.

"It's likely we'll drop that approach, but we are determined to press on and use other avenues," he said.

These include working closely with the patient watchdog, the Patient and Public Involvement Forum for Suffolk Coastal, and petitioning the Strategic Health Authority and the Government's new Health Secretary.

Widow Helma Bailey, 72, from Snape, said she was prepared to put up £5,000 for a judicial review in her late husband, William's name.

He was cared for by the Saxmundham GP practice before he died of a progressive illness in December 2004, aged 84.

She said she wanted to thank the surgery for all they had done for him, and also felt strongly that it was a worthy scheme.

"I find it beyond belief that the primary care trust rejected a long-term, readily available solution and opted for the short to medium term regardless of the ultimate consequences," she said.

"It seems to me that the PCT came with a closed mind and a foregone conclusion."

She added: "I feel very strongly that the provision of healthcare is the responsibility of the National Health Service to which we all contribute nationally. It should not be subject to short-term regional constraints."

Saxmundham GP Dr John Havard, who has been campaigning for the one-stop shop for the past few years, has already stated that he could not support a judicial review because of the cost to the NHS, although he does support the idea of an independent NHS review, which has been put forward by the Patient and Public Involvement Forum for Suffolk Coastal.

"I don't think it's in the public interest that NHS money should be wasted," he said.

He described Mrs Bailey's offer as "an astoundingly kind gesture" which reflected "the passion within the community" for the project.

He felt it was "very likely" the scheme would still go ahead.

"I'm confident it'll happen – it's just when and how. The project stands on its merits," he said.

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