Bartlet's last duty

FELIXSTOWE'S Bartlet Hospital will have one last duty before it closes - serving the town as its main hospital for six months.If health minister Patricia Hewitt gives the go-ahead for closure of the much-loved convalescent and rehabilitation unit, the General Hospital will close completely for a £1.

FELIXSTOWE'S Bartlet Hospital will have one last duty before it closes - serving the town as its main hospital for six months.

If health minister Patricia Hewitt gives the go-ahead for closure of the much-loved convalescent and rehabilitation unit, the General Hospital will close completely for a £1.2 million makeover.

Everything in the General will be moved to the Bartlet while the work takes place, except the x-ray suite, which will be out of action during the building work.

The Bartlet already has a minor injuries unit, created when the town had a night-time MIU service.

No decision has yet been announced on whether the Bartlet will close - and health chiefs have yet to even apply for planning permission to carry out work at the General, which create wards for 16 beds, plus a variety of clinics, day room and other changes.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Felixstowe Save Our Hospitals Action Group, said: “We have been told the Bartlet will effectively become the General for at least six months while the work to refurbish the General takes place.

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“This is seems a sensible option, although we would lose the x-ray unit for a while because that cannot be moved as it needs a protected room because of the equipment.

“There is some concern that the Primary Care Trust does not seem to be moving very quickly in securing planning permission for some of the changes it wants to make at the General.

“In the autumn, we will have a new PCT and it may be the new trust's views of what should happen to Felixstowe General Hospital will be very different to the current PCT. We have not received any guarantees at all.”

The action group was still fighting for the Bartlet. If Ms Hewitt decided it should close, the group would still have the option of seeking a judicial review in the High Court.

The PCT has already interviewed staff for the jobs which will replace their current posts if the Bartlet goes ahead to keep its skilled and dedicated workers.

“We need to make sure that NHS beds in community hospitals are sustainable by having enough skilled staff to provide safe and high quality care for patients,” said a spokesman.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkeast.nhs.uk

Have you been affected by job cuts in the health services? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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