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Battle to save hospital

PUBLISHED: 17:30 18 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:56 02 March 2010

MP John Gummer was today preparing for the battle to save Felixstowe General Hospital from closure - with the full backing of the Evening Star.

Four years after we launched our Hands Off The General campaign amid fears the unit was to be axed to save money, the fight is now on for real .

MP John Gummer was today preparing for the battle to save Felixstowe General Hospital from closure - with the full backing of the Evening Star.

Four years after we launched our Hands Off The General campaign amid fears the unit was to be axed to save money, the fight is now on for real . . . and supporters are gearing up for a massive save it campaign.

Mr Gummer is today staging a public meeting from 3pm to 5pm at the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell, Hamilton Road, to gauge reaction to the shocking news of the possible closure.

The meeting will be packed because the resort is in uproar at the prospect of losing a valuable and much-needed community facility, used by tens of thousands of people every year.

But it is not the first time it has been under threat.

Back in 1976, hospital chiefs wanted to close it to save money and a protest campaign by residents, councillors and community leaders won the day.

Then in 1998 there were proposals to close the Bartlet Hospital to save money but these, too, were defeated after a campaign by the Evening Star supported by community leaders and readers.

As well as a mammoth petition and a march along the prom, the campaign included a series of meetings and was taken to the very top - the office of then Health Minister Frank Dobson, who decided it must not close.

Ever since there have been fears for the General, Constable Road, and now health chiefs are looking at closing it and selling its site for housing to help pay off their £18 million debts.

Retired GP Alan Wimhurst, president of the League of Friends of Felixstowe Hospitals, today warned Felixstowe was set to lose more than its hospital - and the services it provided would go, too.

He had met Primary Care Trust officials and said their ideas for disposal of the clinics, minor injuries unit, health visitors and district nurses were well advanced.

However, he doubted proposals to farm services out to GP surgeries would save money with doctors able to “name their price” for providing them.

“I think this is the loss of a highly-valued facility for short-term gain and the situation directly contradicts the assurances given to the people of this town when the in-patient beds were removed,” he said.

The PCTs say no decisions have been made concerning the hospital. An options paper would go to the Suffolk Coastal PCT board on June 29.


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