Chiefs say hospital is safe - for now

HEALTH chiefs today moved to try to reassure patients that Felixstowe General Hospital is not about to close – though its future and services are to be reviewed.

HEALTH chiefs today moved to try to reassure patients that Felixstowe General Hospital is not about to close – though its future and services are to be reviewed.

Bosses at the Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust, which runs the community hospital, refused to give an assurance that its future was safe when asked by The Evening Star, though they have pledged that none of its services would be lost.

PCT chief executive Ana Selby said the hospital in Constable Road was becoming old, and increasingly difficult and expensive to adapt.

But today Mrs Selby said she wanted to allay fears and stressed there was "absolutely no closure or change planned for the General or any other hospital within the Suffolk Coastal PCT area".


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She added: "We are always looking to improve services for older people and make them more accessible at a local level.

"We will look at options to improve health care across the coastal area including community hospitals and we will involve patients, carers and local organisations in discussing these options, but we are only at the very initial stages of planning for this.

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"In the meantime, I would welcome comments and feedback from patients and public.

"There are no written proposals or papers, just the aspiration to improve care for patients in the coastal area, particularly for the elderly."

Supporters of the hospital say they are keen to be involved with the discussion of the options for the future at the earliest possible stage.

They recall how secret plans were hatched to close The Bartlet, despite repeated assurances from the authorities that its future was safe.

It was finally saved only after a long battle spearheaded by The Evening Star, MPs and campaigners and taken to then health minister Frank Dobson.

There have long been fears the General could close, leaving people in the growing seaside town facing repeated journeys to Ipswich for treatment.

But supporters of the General would be prepared to see it demolished if a new modern unit for the 21st century, with improved services, was built in the town – perhaps partly financed by sale of its site for housing.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Bartlet and General Support Group, is "perturbed, upset and concerned" that its future is soon to be reviewed.

He has vowed to keep a close eye on options brought forward for future medical care in the town – and to fight tooth and nail to keep the hospital unless there is an adequate replacement and no services are lost.

n What do you think – does Felixstowe need a general hospital? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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