Large demonstration over hospital cuts

HUNDREDS of angry residents took to the streets yesterday to send a powerful message to health chiefs not to cut hospital beds.Newmarket residents, civic leaders and hospital workers gathered to have their voices heard over the future of the town's hospital yesterday .

HUNDREDS of angry residents took to the streets yesterday to send a powerful message to health chiefs not to cut hospital beds.

Newmarket residents, civic leaders and hospital workers gathered to have their voices heard over the future of the town's hospital yesterday .

Over 400 people marched from The Severals through the High Street to a meeting in the Memorial Hall.

Many voiced concerns that the changes would not only mean long journeys to the West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, or Addenbrookes, in Cambridge, but reduced care for the elderly and vulnerable.


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Proposals in the Suffolk West Primary Care Trust's consultation document include cutting 16 beds and services.

PCT chiefs, who are responsible for Newmarket hospital, say they must make the cuts to reduce multi-million pound debts.

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Last month, residents in Sudbury held demonstrations over proposals for St Leonard's Hospital and the Walnuttree Hospital in the town.

People joining yesterday's demonstration spoke of their fears for the future of the hospital and many felt any cut in services would herald the downgrading or closure of the hospital.

Father-of-two Paul Morris spoke of the importance of the hospital to the young and old of the town.

“I think they are doing this to save a few pence,” he said. “And the people of the town will suffer because of it.

“Twice I've had to take our two children into the hospital and the care the health service provided would have been severely diminished if these proposals go ahead.”

One local health worker said: “People will just go home and die. There aren't enough people in intermediate care to take care of them. Those beds in the hospital are full all of the time and they are needed.”

West Suffolk Conservative MP Richard Spring, who has been heavily involved in lobbying on behalf of constituents, expressed his anger at the proposals.

“I could not feel more strongly about this matter. I hope that the PCT's management will realise just how deep feelings are running on this issue,” he said.

“The closure of the rehabilitation beds is a tragic blow for the town. There are insufficient rehab beds in Suffolk as it is without this additional loss.”

“Nobody seems to want to say how those who would have been cared for in these beds will be cared for.

“The closure of the beds effectively reduces the hospital to the status of a health centre.”

A spokesman for the trust said: “There are no proposals to close Newmarket hospital. Everything is under consultation and everybody's views will be considered.”

The consultation was due to end on October 31, but members of the public now have until December 12 to submit their views to the PCT.

A decision on proposals in the new consultation document will be taken at the PCT's board meeting on January 25.

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