Demands for help at health meeting

WIPE out Suffolk's health service debts and stop cutting hospital beds in Felixstowe.Those were the demands given at an emotional meeting where councillors grilled health bosses over their plans to close the Bartlet hospital.

WIPE out Suffolk's health service debts and stop cutting hospital beds in Felixstowe.

Those were the demands given at an emotional meeting where councillors grilled health bosses over their plans to close the Bartlet hospital.

More than 60 residents turned out last night to hear what Primary Care Trusts chiefs had to say at a special meeting of Felixstowe town council.

Malcolm Minns, a town councillor, received a large round of applause when he questioned the strength of the proposals.

He said: “It is spurious to call this consultation document Changing For The Better. That is nonsense. Absolute nonsense.”

Other councillors raised concerns over the provision of care in the community services, which the PCT bosses admitted are not yet in place.

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Julia Smith, head of therapy and rehabilitation services, said: “In an ideal world we would put the new services in and then run down the old services but we have this financial position. We are not in an ideal world so what we've got to do is run the new services up while we are running the old services down.”

Martin Royal, programme director for Suffolk East PCTs, told the council the three east Suffolk PCTS - Central Suffolk, Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal - are overspending by £2,500 every hour of every day but they have been told they must not overspend in this financial year.

He added: “We do not believe the current estate is necessarily fit for the purpose. There are older buildings not fit for modern health care and they need to change.”

The council resolved to urge the government to wipe out the PCTs' £48 million debt, to reject the proposed reduction in hospital facilities in the town and to oppose any future proposals to reduce hospital and health care in Felixstowe.

Members also decided to exploit all practical ways of protesting about the proposed changes.

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