'No plans to close community hospitals'

RESIDENTS were assured yesterday that full consultation would be held if changes were made to services at community hospitals in Suffolk.Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust (PCT) is preparing to improve services, particularly for elderly people, to ensure that they are appropriate for the 21st Century.

By Richard Smith

RESIDENTS were assured yesterday that full consultation would be held if changes were made to services at community hospitals in Suffolk.

Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust (PCT) is preparing to improve services, particularly for elderly people, to ensure that they are appropriate for the 21st Century.

The PCT runs Felixstowe General and The Bartlett, Aldeburgh and District Community Hospital, and Hartismere Hospital, near Eye.


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Ana Selby, the Trust's chief executive, stressed there were no plans to close any of the four hospitals and documents had not been prepared outlining their future.

''It is all about improving services and making sure that with these hospitals we have got the role of the hospital right in terms of the medical care for people.

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''We look at the services to make sure we are continually improving the services and that they are the best they can be and it is about looking at all services as we can not look at one hospital in isolation. Once we have got firm options then we will consult very widely,'' she said.

In Felixstowe there is a minor injuries unit, an outpatient department, x-ray facilities and 28 GP-run beds at the General Hospital. The Bartlett has 56 beds and runs as a rehabilitation unit and convalescent home for patients who need care after being at Ipswich Hospital.

Concern has been expressed that the General could be closed, leaving people facing repeated journeys to Ipswich for treatment.

Mrs Selby said it was an old building that was becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to adapt. ''There is no change planned for the Felixstowe General or The Bartlett in terms of closure. What we are starting to do is to look at options to improve care and we are only at the initial stages of looking,'' she added.

Meanwhile the PCT is preparing to be one of the first in the country to take over health care in local prisons. The Trust and the open and closed prisons at Hollesley, near Woodbridge, have been chosen to act in a pilot scheme to look at health problems among prisoners from April.

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