Demo to mark Bartlet birthday

A PROTEST march is to be held on Felixstowe seafront to demonstrate against the proposed closure of the Bartlet Hospital - and to mark its 80th birthday.

A PROTEST march is to be held on Felixstowe seafront to demonstrate against the proposed closure of the Bartlet Hospital - and to mark its 80th birthday.

Campaigners wanted to hold a tea party to commemorate the special anniversary of the convalescent and rehabilitation unit - which was opened in 1926 - at the hospital, but Primary Care Trust officials put so many obstacles in the way, the idea was dropped.

Instead, there will be a protest march plus a party and an exhibition, and organisers are hoping as many people as possible will join the afternoon to show their support for the much-loved hospital.

The aim is to set off from the Herman de Stern, a former hospital which was also closed, and walk along the prom past the site of another former convalescent home to The Hut, the former Red Cross Centre, below the Bartlet, where refreshments will be served.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Felixstowe Save Our Hospitals Action Group, said the group had been unable to accept restrictions the PCT wanted to impose on a party in the Bartlet grounds.

These had included no form of campaigning or any material being used concerning the closure.

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He said: “Our view is that the celebration of the 80th birthday of the Bartlet and its closure are closely linked and both important topics and we could not accept the restrictions and give the guarantees required.

“Instead, we are holding this march and we want people to come along with banners and placards and to protest about the PCT's proposals to close the Bartlet and the other hospital closures and cuts in services and jobs.”

He added that the group also wanted to celebrate the Bartlet and the wonderful service it had provided over many years.

Mr Gray said: “It is unbelievable that a government minister can launch a campaign to preserve elderly people's dignity and yet the PCT is proposing to close the Bartlet, which offers elderly people the chance to adjust from acute hospital care before they go home with staff trained to do this work and in a wonderful location.

“This is exactly what Dr Bartlet had in mind when he left the money to build the hospital and what so many doctors and nursing staff tell us is still essential today.”

n. The march will take place on Sunday May 21 at 2.45pm.

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

Factfile: Dr John Bartlet

John Henry Bartlet was born in Ipswich in 1829, the son of a doctor, and educated at Ipswich School before studying medicine at London University.

He became governor of East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital in 1859, an honorary surgeon in 1870 and hospital president in 1910.

Dr Bartlet's last wish before he died on May 27, 1917, was that east Suffolk residents should have somewhere to convalesce, away from the busy hospital environment.

He was particularly concerned for women returning home from operations before they were ready or not having someone to look after them at home.

He left £250,000 in his will for purchase of land and construction of the hospital, leaving it to the trustees of his will to decide the details.

The Bartlet Hospital finally opened in 1926, built on the site of a Martello Tower and the Bath Hotel, which had been burned down by suffragettes.