Rural hospital's future safeguarded
A RURAL hospital is set to be developed in line with the needs of the local community – putting an end to lingering fears of closure.Public consultations are to go ahead this year over the future of Hartismere Hospital at Eye, which currently has 80 beds and some outpatient services.
By David Green
A RURAL hospital is set to be developed in line with the needs of the local community – putting an end to lingering fears of closure.
Public consultations are to go ahead this year over the future of Hartismere Hospital at Eye, which currently has 80 beds and some outpatient services.
The hospital, subject of closure fears in the 1970s and 80s, could now be expanded to cater for health and social care services provided by both the statutory and voluntary sectors.
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Caroline Tuohy , director of service development for Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust, said it was hoped to appoint a project manager by the beginning of April and to begin consultations soon after.
"This will be an opportunity to really galvanise the community to help design, put together and monitor the future of Hartismere Hospital," she said.
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Ms Tuohy said people would be asked what services they wanted at the hospital rather than have proposals thrust upon them.
"Hartismere is in an excellent location to serve communities in the north of Suffolk. It is a big site and the plan for the future could involve building work," she added.
Sixth form students at the adjacent Hartismere High School could be asked to help in the public consultation process.
Alan Cooper, mayor of Eye, said provision of a wider range of services at the hospital would be welcomed throughout the area.
"At the moment we have a journey of more than 20 miles to get to the main hospitals at Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich and it is not easy for people to get there and back," he said.
Local patients having operations or treatment in the main hospitals were currently able to be moved to Hartismere Hospital for rehabilitation and this was also better for relatives and friends wanting to visit, Mr Cooper said.
People were also able to attend a day centre and a physiotherapy department and these services should continue to be provided alongside the new idea.
"Developing Hartismere Hospital is a very good idea and the community will be all in favour," he added.