Legal fight to stop hospital closure

HEALTH campaigners are seeking legal action in a bid to stop the closure of hospital beds.A delegation of Newmarket residents battling to save the remaining beds at the town's hospital, threatened with closure because of health service debts, is meeting with a team of specialist lawyers.

HEALTH campaigners are seeking legal action in a bid to stop the closure of hospital beds.

A delegation of Newmarket residents battling to save the remaining beds at the town's hospital, threatened with closure because of health service debts, is meeting with a team of specialist lawyers.

Depending on the outcome of legal discussions this could lead to a High Court injunction, keeping the beds open, until the matter is investigated further.

They are considering whether the hospital could stay open to in-patients via support from the community.

Town mayor Warwick Hirst, who is part of the delegation, explained the group, which also includes campaigners Marion Fairman-Smith and Shirley Crickmere, was looking into whether a judicial review could be sought.

Mr Hirst said: “The Suffolk West Primary Care Trust is going to make a decision about the hospital's future on February 22.

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“Basically, what we are doing prior to that is seeking advice so we can be prepared for their decision.”

He said a law firm which specialised in public sector and health services cases was being consulted by a deputation from Newmarket in London on Monday.

He added: “What we are looking at is basically two ways in which we can do things.

“Firstly we can work with the PCT, by looking at providing some support, financially or in terms of managing the beds, or we can work against them.

“If we secure a judicial review into what they are proposing, they will not be able to do anything while the review is taking place, so we are just being prepared.”

The PCT has proposed the closure of the remaining 16 beds at the Newmarket Hospital as part of its swingeing cuts designed to rein in an estimated £20 million debt.

Health chiefs have argued that treatment at home can be more beneficial for patients in some circumstances, but a fighting fund has already been set up by Newmarket residents, with the aim of paying ti keep the beds open.

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