Villagers told to fight hospital closure

VILLAGERS attending a celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of end of the Second World War were urged to rise up and fight "another dictatorship" – bureaucrats trying to close a rural hospital.

By David Green

VILLAGERS attending a celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of end of the Second World War were urged to rise up and fight "another dictatorship" - bureaucrats trying to close a rural hospital.

The celebration, at Brome, near Eye, was marked by an outspoken assault by local landowner, Peter West, on plans to close Hartismere Hospital.

Villagers at Brome have raised thousands of pounds over the years to help support the hospital, which mainly caters for elderly people.


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Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), which has overspent by millions of pounds in recent years, wants to close the hospital and replace it with enlarged care in the community services.

Mr West, a local historian whose family's land was commandeered for the wartime airfield at Brome, pointed out that patients in the hospital included those who had fought for their country in the Second World War.

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They were people whose families would be unable to visit them daily if they were transferred to one of the main urban hospitals.

Mr West highlighted the case of one patient, former Brome resident, Ted Harvey, who is in his 80s and currently has a daily visit from his companion, Daisy Bartrum.

"The bumbling bureaucrats of the health service who are incapable of managing their finances are dictating that our local hospital will close.

"Ted and others fought against dictatorship and this village must now join forces to fight this dictatorship which is being forced upon us," he said.

Mr West's call for villagers to fight the hospital closure plans came at the end of a talk about the history of Brome Airfield.

His remarks were greeted by loud applause from an audience of 150 taking part in the "end-of-war" anniversary event, part-funded with a £3,300 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

The celebrations included a communal meal, an impressive display of memorabilia, an aerobatic display over the village and restored military vehicles on show in the village hall.

A Central Suffolk PCT spokesman refuted the "dictatorship" claim and pointed out that the trust was currently engaged in a public consultation exercise.

"The PCT is managed by a board including professional health care workers and publicly appointed non-executives. As part of the NHS we respond to the decisions of a democratically elected government.

"There are a complex combination of factors causing our financial situation, for example more than 75% of our money is spent by others, and we are trying to tackle some of the historical issues causing these problems so we can set up a sustainable future for the local health care economy," the spokesman said.

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