Care changes will face teething troubles

HEALTH chiefs have today warned changes to medical care in Felixstowe will face teething troubles, but have urged the public to back them and help make the system work.

HEALTH chiefs have today warned changes to medical care in Felixstowe will face teething troubles, but have urged the public to back them and help make the system work.

But Save Our Hospital Action Group Campaigners and councillors have voiced fears over whether 16 hospital beds for an area with a population of 30,000 - and set to grow by thousands more in the years ahead - will be adequate.

A meeting between the Primary Care Trust and the town council yesterday was told there was no going back over the closure of the Bartlet Hospital, which is now up for sale, and the General would be the resort's only hospital in future.

The many elderly people who traditionally had convalescent and rehabilitation care at the Bartlet would in future be looked after in their own homes by care teams run from the hospital, which will have tailor-made day treatment services for them and 24-hour care services.

But Councillor Mike Deacon said: “If you are an elderly person, just come out of hospital after a major operation, alone and suffering problems at 3am in the morning you would want to have carers with you at that time - as you would have done in the past.

“Now you will be waiting for one of four nurses covering the whole of Ipswich and Felixstowe to arrive. I am not convinced.”

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Campaigner Peter Mellor said in just two years Felixstowe had gone from having 84 beds to just 16.

He said: “I know there have been improvements in care and probably less beds are needed and I accept that, but to go down to 16 just doesn't seem right.”

But PCT officials said 16 beds had been agreed after carefully looking at patient statistics for the Bartlet. Many patients did not come from Felixstowe and would be treated in their towns in future, while others could be successfully cared for at home.

Felixstowe care team leader Mike Brown said the Bartlet was “mostly full” but last week he had three empty male patient beds and Ipswich Hospital could not provide any patients.

He said: “These changes have got to work and we need the public to help make them work. We will have teething troubles because it would be unrealistic to say we would not have, but if you are on the receiving end we need to know because if we don't know we cannot put it right.”

Do you think 16 beds will be enough? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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