Legal fight goes on - health campaigner

A CAMPAIGNER fighting hospital cutbacks last night vowed to continue with a legal challenge against the plans - just days after health chiefs announced proposed changes had been put on hold.

A CAMPAIGNER fighting hospital cutbacks last night vowed to continue with a legal challenge against the plans - just days after health chiefs announced proposed changes had been put on hold.

Frances Jackson said she had no plans to withdraw her judicial review application against the closure of Sudbury's St Leonard's Hospital and all inpatient services at the town's Walnuttree Hospital and Newmarket Hospital.

Last week, health chiefs announced that plans to close hospital beds and vital services had been put on hold and the decision itself was now under review.

But any joy at the move was tinged with fears from campaigners that cuts could still take place in the future once the judicial review was halted.


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Staff, patients and community leaders were left devastated earlier this year when the now-defunct Suffolk West Primary Care Trust (PCT) unanimously voted to remove all inpatients beds at the Walnuttree and Newmarket Hospital and to close and sell St Leonard's Hospital.

But the cash-saving decision was challenged by Mrs Jackson and then by Suffolk County Council's health scrutiny committee, which referred the matter to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

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And now the Suffolk PCT, which absorbed Suffolk West PCT, will review the controversial decision although it warned it still needed to make £6 million of savings over the next four months.

Mrs Jackson, who lives in Great Cornard, said she remained cautious and would not halt the challenge until assurances were given.

“Obviously I am quite pleased that the PCT wants to have a rethink but I will only be delighted if it goes in Sudbury's favour,” she said.

“At the moment, I just don't know what is going to happen so there is no way I am going to withdraw the judicial review. There have been so many empty promises in Sudbury over the years and we need quality services for all. I will just wait and see how events unfold.”

A spokeswoman for the PCT said: “There is a review that the PCT is undertaking and this review is looking very closely at the previous consultation and taking into account the views of stakeholders and related issues, such as the acute services review across the east of England.

“This review may lead to a rethink on the decisions that were taken by Suffolk West PCT. This could be a glimmer of hope, though we've still got to make savings.”

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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