Bartlet protestors refuse to give up

WE will not give up!That was the message from campaigners as they held a protest march to mark the 80th anniversary of the threatened Bartlet Hospital - and let health chiefs know they are still fighting to save it.

WE will not give up!

That was the message from campaigners as they held a protest march to mark the 80th anniversary of the threatened Bartlet Hospital - and let health chiefs know they are still fighting to save it.

Despite foul weather, more than 50 people took part in the march along deserted Felixstowe prom, armed with placards and banners, pushing a hospital bed with Jenny Brabazon, from the patient forum, as the “patient”.

They walked a mile-and-a-half from the Herman de Stern, a former convalescent hospital, to The Hut day centre below the Bartlet, where they sang Happy Birthday to the hospital before holding a tea party to mark its eight decades of care.

Dr Janet Massey, a member of the action group fighting to save the hospital from closure, said: “What we want is for it to stay open and provide another 80 years of excellent care.

“As a GP I know that what Dr Bartlet left his inheritance for - convalescent care for people before they return home - is as relevant today as it was in 1926. We still need it.”

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Councillor Mike Ninnmey said: “It is totally wrong people should be sent home to sit for prolonged periods of time without care, wondering when someone will call to see them.

“There are people who need to convalesce before they go home to their families or to be on their own, who need that little bit extra time and care to adjust.

“We need the Bartlet now - not just for Felixstowe but for the people of east Suffolk.”

Action group chairman Roy Gray was pleased with the turn-out for the march in the wind and rain.

He said: “If it had been a fine, sunny day I am sure we would have had 200 more people down here to support the Bartlet, but the weather has been terrible.

“I am delighted to see those who did turn up and we will continue to make our points and fight to try to save the hospital from closure.”

Action group member Peter Mellor said the group had received no indication yet when health secretary Patricia Hewitt would announce her decision to agree or disagree with Primary Care Trust's wish to close the unit.

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

Factfile: Dr John Bartlet

John Henry Bartlet was born in Ipswich in 1829, the son of a doctor, and educated at Ipswich School before studying medicine at London University.

He became governor of East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital in 1859, an honorary surgeon in 1870 and hospital president in 1910. He also served as mayor of Ipswich.

Dr Bartlet's last wish before he died on May 27, 1917, was that east Suffolk residents should have somewhere to convalesce, away from the busy hospital environment.

He was particularly concerned for women returning home from operations before they were ready or not having someone to look after them at home.

He left £250,000 in his will for purchase of land and construction of the hospital, leaving it to the trustees of his will to decide the details.

The Bartlet Hospital finally opened in 1926, built on the site of a Martello Tower and the Bath Hotel, which had been burned down by suffragettes.

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