Public urged to back new hospital plans

THE PUBLIC has been urged to get behind proposals for a new community hospital to serve a large rural area of north Suffolk and south Norfolk.Details of the proposals - drawn up by the Hartismere Hospital league of Friends at Eye - were presented to a packed public meeting in Hoxne Village Hall.

By David Green

THE PUBLIC has been urged to get behind proposals for a new community hospital to serve a large rural area of north Suffolk and south Norfolk.

Details of the proposals - drawn up by the Hartismere Hospital league of Friends at Eye - were presented to a packed public meeting in Hoxne Village Hall.

Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have submitted plans to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt for the closure of the existing Hartismere Hospital and its replacement with enhanced “care in the community” services.


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The PCTs plan to sell off most of the hospital site for private nursing home and other development to help finance the new system.

But The League of Friends, which led an ultimately unsuccessful public campaign to persuade the PCTs to abandon the proposals, has now come up with its own alternative - a new community hospital providing “cradle to grave” care.

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Hopes of the project coming to fruition have been boosted by an announcement from Ms Hewitt earlier this week that £750 million was being made available nationwide for existing community hospitals.

Eric Havers, League of Friends chairman, appealed to the public to support the new hospital idea.

“We want the area to buzz with what we are proposing. People power can have a great influence, particularly if young people get involved,” he said.

Volunteers were also being sought to help maintain a dialogue with the PCTs.

Mr Havers said a new building could be the most cost effective option but if money was available, it could make sense to consider improvements to the existing building.

“We are planning to take a road show around the area to provide local people with information about what we are proposing.

“Our objective is to share the vision for Hartismere and how we believe it could affect the lives of most people living within the catchment area of 10-12 miles,” he said.

Mr Havers' call for public support was echoed by Sir Michael Lord, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, who said Hartismere could become a fully operational community hospital.

A statement handed out at the meeting by the PCTs said they were committed to maintaining a dialogue and working with the local community.

It said: “As we await the outcome of the review by the Secretary of State this communication is regarded as highly relevant and important.”

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