Campaigners to pack health meeting
ANGRY campaigners will tomorrow pack a meeting to overflowing to make their feelings known about the possible closure of Felixstowe General Hospital.Health chiefs will gather to discuss their dire financial situation – and various options to cut costs.
ANGRY campaigners will tomorrow pack a meeting to overflowing to make their feelings known about the possible closure of Felixstowe General Hospital.
Health chiefs will gather to discuss their dire financial situation – and various options to cut costs.
But Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust (PCT) said its board members will make no decisions at the meeting – being held at Cavendish Community Church, Grange Farm Avenue, Felixstowe, at 9.30am – and only launch an investigation.
At the centre of what they are calling a detailed review of the town's health services, are four buildings run by the NHS:
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n Felixstowe General
n The Bartlet
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n Bartlet annexe
n A property in Constable Road.
Campaigners are steadfast in their opposition to any moves to close the General or Bartlet and will take their fight to the Health Minister if necessary.
Thousands of people have been signing an Evening Star petition against the closure of the General and the action group is stepping up its battle.
They say Felixstowe should not pay the price for the financial failings of the PCT elsewhere just because its hospitals stand on prime sites, which could be sold for huge sums to be redeveloped for housing.
The feeling is the Bartlet annexe should be sold for conversion to flats.
The annexe is said to be worth £650,000-plus and is currently home to the town's physiotherapy department – earmarked already to be moved to the General – and also home to the admin offices of the PCT, operations which could be merged with the East Suffolk PCT and moved out.
The house in Constable Road has been the chiropody department for many years but this is also to be moved into the General so the house can be sold.
It is said to be worth around £250,000.
The sale of these two properties would generate nearly £1 million for the PCT and would not affect health services in the town at all.
Petition co-ordinator Ian Heeley said: "I think there are a lot of questions we want answered about the PCT's finances – and especially how they have managed to let the situation deteriorate to this.
"We understand that each PCT started its life with debts – debts handed down from the old Suffolk Health Authority, so there must have been problems there, too, and something should have been done much sooner.
"People in Felixstowe have been told repeatedly over the past two years that the General Hospital is safe. They have assured us of this time and time again.
"To now think of taking it away is awful and they cannot be allowed to get away with it. We cannot need a hospital – an expanded hospital at that – one minute and then not at all."
A report to board members said people should be treated in their homes rather than as in-patients, but all the General's services are out-patient clinics.
Janice Steed, director of service delivery and improvement, said: "We have to accept that provision of two hospitals and two other health properties in one town is economically unsustainable."