Stroke victim's plea over hospital

A STROKE victim who says his life was saved by a threatened local hospital is making a last ditch plea to save the unit.Ernie Shaw, 80, has been a patient at Walnuttree Hospital, Sudbury, since he was struck down by a stroke in July and credits the unit and its staff with helping him survive his health scare.

A STROKE victim who says his life was saved by a threatened local hospital is making a last ditch plea to save the unit.

Ernie Shaw, 80, has been a patient at Walnuttree Hospital, Sudbury, since he was struck down by a stroke in July and credits the unit and its staff with helping him survive his health scare.

Now, the retired Sudbury storeman is pleading with health bosses to spare the beleaguered hospital, which he says should be saved for the people of the town - particularly the elderly and vulnerable who he says would face an arduous journey to the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Without the local care, the prominent fundraiser and former scout leader believes many of his friends and family, including his wife Margaret, would not be able to visit him.

“If I was at the West Suffolk I would have been stranded in Bury but here my wife comes to see me everyday,” he said.

Beds at the Walnuttree Hospital have been earmarked for closure as part of Suffolk West Primary Care Trust's bid to rein in more than £20million debts.

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There are plans for a new health centre in Sudbury, but Mr Shaw said: “The solution for health services in Sudbury is to keep this hospital open.

“We would be lost without it. The treatment I have received here has been first class and there is nowhere else to go.”

Mrs Shaw, who visits her husband every day, said the convenience of the Walnuttree had helped at a difficult time. “The care here has been wonderful, they have looked after Ernie very well,” said the former wartime ambulance driver.

The consultation period on the future of health services in Sudbury as well as those in Newmarket, where hospital beds are also due to close, is due to end on December 12.

A final decision on which facilities will close is due to be made at Suffolk West Primary Care Trust's board meeting in January.

A consultation document 'Modernising Healthcare in West Suffolk' has laid out swingeing cutbacks to health services throughout the west of the county with the closure threatened Walnuttree losing 32 beds and more than 60 beds axed at Newmarket Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital Bury St Edmunds.

A PCT spokesman accepted there were public concerns and urged Mr Shaw to fill out a consultation questionnaire.

“One of the visions in our consultation document is the improved rehabilitation we would be able to offer as a result of doing things differently,” she said.

“This would mean that people recovering from strokes would be supported, by therapists and nurses, to recover at home, in familiar surroundings.

“This has been clinically proven to provide the best health outcome for patients.”

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