Battle cry to protestors

DON'T give up - we can win this battle!That was the message to the public today as they were urged to step up the fight to save Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital from closure.

DON'T give up - we can win this battle!

That was the message to the public today as they were urged to step up the fight to save Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital from closure.

The consultation period is now at a half-way stage, and while the Primary Care Trust says it has received a huge response so far, campaigners say more people must make their views known.

More than 15,000 people have signed a protest petition - which will be handed over later this month - but letters giving views really count.

To help residents understand the situation fully, a special meeting is being held on Friday at 7pm at St John's Church, Orwell Road, Felixstowe.

The Health Crisis Meeting will feature a panel including GPs from the town, people involved with patient forums, the campaign action group, and Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, explaining why closing the Bartlet would be a disaster for medical services in the area.

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Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals action group, said around 600 people were expected to attend the meeting.

“We have picked the biggest town centre venue we could find and we hope it will be overflowing,” he said.

“This is a crucial time. We need as many people as possible to respond to the consultation and give their views to the PCT - let them know how we feel about what they are doing to our health service.

“We are the people who use this health service, and we know what we want from it and how it will work best for us - that's patient choice.”

Campaigners believe if there is an overwhelming will from the public that the Bartlet should stay open, then the PCT should respect that wish - otherwise the consultation will have been a complete waste of time.

Mr Gray said the public meeting would give experts, including doctors and other health experts, who believe the changes will not work a chance to explain why they oppose them so passionately.

Suffolk East PCT wants to close the Bartlet and make other changes to health services in the area to cut their multi-million pound debts. The Bartlet would be sold for conversion for luxury flats.

In the future, people would be sent home from hospital earlier - instead of for rehabilitation and convalescence - to be looked after by travelling care teams.

Want do you think of the health cuts? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

N Page 11 - Health bosses extend consultation period

N Page 25 - Protesters demonstration to save hospitals