Campaigners set for Westminster rally

COACHLOADS of campaigners from Suffolk will this month take part in a national rally at Westminster against the closure of community hospitals.Organisers say coaches are expected from Felixstowe, Sudbury, and Eye for the demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on March 28 - and there are still some seats available.

COACHLOADS of campaigners from Suffolk will this month take part in a national rally at Westminster against the closure of community hospitals.

Organisers say coaches are expected from Felixstowe, Sudbury, and Eye for the demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on March 28 - and there are still some seats available.

The event is being organised by Community Hospitals Acting Nationally Together (CHANT) which hopes thousands will attend from all over the country to lobby MPs.

MP Graham Stuart, chairman of CHANT, welcomed Suffolk's overview and scrutiny committee's decision to refer the proposed closure of Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital and Hartismere Hospital to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

He said: “Rhetoric we hear in Parliament is not being matched by action on the ground.

“CHANT is dismayed that closures are going ahead despite the commitment to community health care in the recent Health White Paper.

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“We have requested that the department issues immediate guidance to local health bosses.

“Closures are still being driven by financial, not health, considerations, with only token nods to the White paper. It is time for minister to act to make sure that PCTs have the resources and will to protect vital local services.”

Up to 80 hospitals across the country face a threat to their future.

Peter Mellor, of the Felixstowe Save Our Hospitals action group, said: “There are still some places available on our coach. We want it to be full to give our fullest support possible to this event.

“It is vital that we protest at Westminster because the government needs to know the deep concern that people have about these closures and proposed closures - ministers need to take action to sort out the terrible crisis facing the health service.”

The rally will take place in Old Palace Yard between 1pm and 2pm. Supporters are invited to gather from noon.

PCT chiefs want to close the Bartlet and replace it with travelling care teams looking after people in their homes.

To book a place on the Felixstowe coach phone Peter Mellor on 01394 277754.

WEBLINK: www.chantonline.com

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