War hero fights hospital closure

EXCLUSIVEBy David GreenA WAR hero who fought against Adolf Hitler is preparing to battle a new “dictatorship” over the threatened closure of a rural hospital.

EXCLUSIVE

By David Green

A WAR hero who fought against Adolf Hitler is preparing to battle a new “dictatorship” over the threatened closure of a rural hospital.

Ted Harvey, 86, is a patient at Hartismere Hospital in Eye, which is threatened with closure by the Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust as it tries to resolve its financial crisis.


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Each afternoon for the past four months Mr Harvey's partner, Daisy Bartrum, 68, has left the couple's home in Eye to walk half-a-mile to the hospital to spend a few hours with him.

But the couple are worried that if Hartismere Hospital is closed, Mr Harvey could end up in a hospital or residential home miles away - out of daily reach of Mrs Bartrum.

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His former employer, Peter West, from nearby Brome, has highlighted the plight of Mr Harvey and urged the community to rise up and fight the trust's proposal.

“The bumbling bureaucrats of the health service who are incapable of managing their finances are dictating that our local hospital will close,” he said.

“Ted and others fought against dictatorship and this village must now join forces to fight this dictatorship which is being forced upon us.”

Mr Harvey, a former Royal Engineer who had to swim for his life during the wartime evacuation at Dunkirk, has been a patient at Hartismere Hospital for four months, but previously had a spell in Ipswich Hospital.

“I would rather lie beside the road than go back there,” said Mr Harvey, who was a Special Constable in Eye for 21 years and holds the Police Medal, as well as several military decorations.

Mrs Bartrum, who worked as a nursing auxiliary at Hartismere Hospital from the age of 17 until she was 63, said if her partner was moved to another hospital or residential home miles away she would have to rely on his two sons for lifts.

However, as they were both in full-time employment, the visits would be less frequent and more onerous.

“Hartismere Hospital is a lovely place where people are well looked after. I don't want to see it close,” she said.

The pensioner is determined to take part in a Save Our Beds protest walk in Eye on September 17.

Jeremy Peters, trust spokesman, said it could hardly be considered a dictatorship when its board included professional health care workers and publicly appointed non-executives and was in the midst of a public consultation exercise.

“As part of the National Health Service we respond to the decisions of a democratically-elected government,” he said.

“There is 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.”

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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