Battle not over for Bartlet

DON'T give up on The Bartlet - it's a crying shame that the axe is hovering over one of our region's finest hospitals.That's The Evening Star's battle-cry today as yet again we are launching a last-minute fight to save Felixstowe's precious and cherished hospital which serves the whole Suffolk community.

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DON'T give up on The Bartlet - it's a crying shame that the axe is hovering over one of our region's finest hospitals.

That's The Evening Star's battle-cry today as yet again we are launching a last-minute fight to save Felixstowe's precious and cherished hospital which serves the whole Suffolk community.

In a week when Prime Minister Tony Blair and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt pledged their commitment to community hospitals we say they should step in and stop local health chiefs in their tracks.

We say the Government should “call in” the Suffolk plans for sweeping cutbacks - forced on our unwilling county because of local over-spending - and review the whole programme, including the decision to close the Bartlet.

We have stood solidly side-by-side with the campaigners battling to keep this excellent community facility from closure - and we demand a re-think.

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To get rid of this convalescent and rehabilitation hospital now is madness and will be something we all regret in the future, whether we live in Ipswich, Felixstowe or anywhere in east Suffolk.

We fully understand the proposals to improve Felixstowe General Hospital - plans talked about for the past three years - but the Bartlet's role is vital, too.

The hospital:

is a vital overspill for Ipswich - providing much-needed extra beds as a pressure valve for when the main hospital is on black alert;

its care is top quality with a dedicated team of nurses;

convalescent beds will always be needed because many people will not be well enough to be returned home, especially if they have no family, to spend hours alone without care each day;

the Bartlet is a perfect place to convalesce with its wonderful sea views, calm and peaceful atmosphere.

Today Felixstowe Save Our Hospital action group sent an urgent letter to Suffolk East Primary Care Trust chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown asking for the closure of the Bartlet to be put on hold while proposed new measures from the government are examined.

Roy Gray, chairman of the action group, said: “Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt told the House of Commons 'community facilities that are needed for the long term must not be lost in response to short-term budgetary pressures'.

“She is expecting PCTs to reconsider such proposals as a part of the new ideas in the White Paper now being published.

“The Bartlet Hospital is a community hospital that is vital for the people of Felixstowe, Ipswich and east Suffolk - it must not be lost, and the government clearly intends that it should stay.

“We believe the plans the public supported to create an in-patient hospital at the Bartlet with GP beds, and an out-patient hospital at Felixstowe General with more clinics for the community should be reinstated now.”

The PCT plans to discharge people quicker from hospital to be cared for at home by travelling care teams who drive from house to house, giving care.

Health bosses in Suffolk approved the closure of a swathe of community hospitals and mental health services last week, including the Bartlet Hospital in Felixstowe and Bridge House in Ipswich but say they are now working on providing “more appropriate” community services in their place.

Are you worried about the changes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Labour: Changing for the worse - see Edblog at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

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