Legal threat to hospital closure plan

EXCLUSIVEBy Dave GooderhamA BELEAGUERED health trust has been threatened with judicial review unless it scraps a controversial consultation document outlining huge cuts to services.

EXCLUSIVE

By Dave Gooderham

A BELEAGUERED health trust has been threatened with judicial review unless it scraps a controversial consultation document outlining huge cuts to services.

Campaigners fighting to save the Walnuttree Hospital in Sudbury warned last night they would take their battle to the courts unless the document was shelved.


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Suffolk West Primary Care Trust remained tight-lipped over the threat, but it is facing mounting pressure to improve the three-month consultation document.

The three-month consultation strategy, Modernising Health Care in West Suffolk, proposes radical cuts to vital services at the Walnuttree Hospital, West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket Hospital to ease multi-million-pound debts.

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But members of the Walnuttree Hospital Action Committee have called for the immediate withdrawal of the document after seeking advice from health and legal experts.

Sue Brotherwood, committee secretary, said: “A judicial review would be one of our last options, but we will not hesitate to do it if we have to. We would certainly not rule it out and we have a fighting fund to support it.

“We are not going to just let this die - we will take more legal advice and make sure we do the best by the people of Sudbury and the local area.”

Colin Spence, committee chairman, said: “The document provides little detail, except in relation to what services are going to be cut. The proposed replacement services are described in impossibly vague terms.

“At times of financial crisis, and of possible cuts to vital services, it is more important than ever that proposals for change be carefully considered rather than represent a knee-jerk reaction.

“The committee believes that the proposals are so flawed that they will inevitably unravel sooner or later and such a poor consultation document could attract a successful legal challenge.”

It has written to the trust calling for the document to be withdrawn and replaced with a more in-depth analysis of the problems and potential cutbacks.

A trust spokesman said: “We will be considering the letter in detail and responding to the Walnuttree Hospital Action Committee directly.”

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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