Action urged on hospital

HEALTH secretary Alan Milburn has been urged to take action after a long awaited £12million town hospital looks certain to face more delays due to financial pressures.

HEALTH secretary Alan Milburn has been urged to take action after a long awaited £12million town hospital looks certain to face more delays due to financial pressures.

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo has issued the call after learning the outline business case for the new Sudbury Community Hospital will almost certainly be turned down for the fourth time due to a cash crisis in Suffolk's health services.

Health chiefs say the scheme is now likely to be delayed for months and plans to open the hospital by autumn 2005 will almost certainly be abandoned.

The problem arises after health organisations in Suffolk predicted a £7m overspend by the end of the year.


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The Sudbury case goes before the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge Health Authority this week. It will not approve the plans until it is happy with the financial position of Suffolk West Primary Care Group.

The West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust was recently given permission to spend £1m to buy land for the new hospital. But the scheme cannot proceed until the outline business case wins approval.

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Chief executive of the Suffolk West Primary Care Group, Tony Ranzetta, said: "The health authority will not approve the case for Sudbury until it is happy with our financial position.

"It is not happy with the position at the moment, so it is highly unlikely the Sudbury case will be approved next week.

"We are only talking about a deficit of around £2m, so we hope the delays will be months rather than years."

People in Sudbury have been battling for a new hospital for over a decade and Mr Yeo said they were fed up with the delays.

The MPsaid: "For more than a decade there have been plans to replace the hopelessly out of date facilities in Sudbury, but once again we are hit by delays.

"It is not fair to take the financial difficulties out on the Sudbury project.

"The latest difficulties are the direct responsibility of the strategic health authority, and there is great anxiety among the local community that the timetable published only last month,will not be met.

"I am now writing to Mr Milburn to ask him to give assurances that the hospital will go ahead in 2005."

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