Campaigners take fight to London

COACHLOADS of campaigners from Suffolk are set converge on Westminster again as part of a national day of protest against proposals to cut health services.

COACHLOADS of campaigners from Suffolk are set to march on Westminster again as part of a national day of protest against proposals to cut health services.

It was announced today that March 28 would be the date for the protest and organisers hope thousands of people will take part in the event.

More than 80 hospitals across the country are facing the threat of closure, including the Bartlet in Felixstowe, Walnuttree at Sudbury and Hartismere Hospital at Eye, while Aldeburgh and Newmarket face cuts, to help Primary Care Trusts cut their massive debts.

Campaigners met others from across the country at an all-day meeting of the national body CHANT - Community Hospitals Acting Nationally Together - to swap ideas and draw up an action plan.

Roy Gray, chairman of Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals action group, and action group member Dr Janet Massey, went from Felixstowe to hear speakers and join workshops.

“It was an excellent day and we gained lots of good ideas and help from the people we spoke to,” said Mr Gray.

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“Nearly all the hospitals under threat are facing the same situation - some are more advanced in the process and have already had their closure decisions taken.

“There was a long discussion over whether to hold more protests in local areas, but it was decided that a big march through London would be the best course of action to attract maximum national publicity - to march on Westminster and lobby MPs.

“That way Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Prime Minister Tony Blair will see our concern and will have to take notice of what is happening.

“We have to keep the pressure up in any way we can to show what a disgusting decision it will be to close these community hospitals, which serve their areas so brilliantly.”

Mr Gray said it was a very positive day and was good to be part of national group with everyone fighting together for the same cause.

The meeting was addressed by CHANT leaders, and also MPs Boris Johnson and Graham Stuart.

Suffolk East Primary Care Trust will decide later this month whether to close the Bartlet.

It has been analysing hundreds of comments from residents and organisations gathered from its consultation process.

What do you think of plans to close the Bartlet Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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