Bartlet fight ends in sadness

WITH heavy hearts, campaigners today finally and reluctantly admitted their battle to save Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital from closure has ended in defeat.

WITH heavy hearts, campaigners today finally and reluctantly admitted their battle to save Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital from closure has ended in defeat.

The action group which has fought valiantly for the past 18 months to stop health chiefs axing the convalescent and rehabilitation unit said the battle could go no further.

It was not prepared to jeopardise the future of Felixstowe General, which is set for a £1.2 million refurbishment if the Bartlet shuts.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Felixstowe Save Our Hospitals Action Group, was deeply saddened it had not been possible to save the unit on Bath Hill.

When it was under threat eight years ago, the action group went to then health minister Frank Dobson who saved it, but this time Patricia Hewitt's reaction was the complete opposite.

“Very, very reluctantly, we have decided we can go no further and that we cannot take any more action to try to save the Bartlet,” said Mr Gray. “We just cannot afford to jeopardise Felixstowe General.

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“It was a very hard decision, a very big decision and heart-wrenching. My head says do one thing, my heart says another. All the committee members felt the same.

“But we have come to a decision and we have informed our lawyers.

“There were a lot of issues to balance against each other and we have to feel we are making a decision which will represent the people of Felixstowe - and we feel they would not want us to put Felixstowe General in jeopardy.

“We have gone as far as we can. We fought the Primary Care Trust every step of the way, and we took our campaign to Parliament and Patricia Hewitt.

“We just want to thank everyone for their marvellous support and all the help they gave and we are just so sorry the Bartlet, which has provided wonderful care for our community, will be lost.

“I am telling the PCT we will be watching the General like hawks and we are trusting them to their word that they will refurbish it and turn it into a community hospital we can be proud of.”

The campaign began last year after nursing staff were told Felixstowe General was to close - it later became clear the Bartlet was the real target. More than 16,000 people signed a petition spearheaded by The Evening Star, while there were protest marches, public meetings and two rallies held in London, including a meeting with MPs in Parliament.

The PCT has decided in future people will be discharged from hospital earlier to be looked after at home by travelling care teams.

The Bartlet and its annexe, previously offices for PCT staff, will be sold and turned into luxury apartments.

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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