Fears for Felixstowe's other hospital

WITH the battle to save Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital at a crucial stage, today there were fresh fears for the future of the town's General Hospital.As campaigners returned from a highly-successful day taking part in a national rally at Westminster, they spoke of their worries that a proposed £1 million refurbishment of the General may not go ahead.

WITH the battle to save Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital at a crucial stage, today there were fresh fears for the future of the town's General Hospital.

As campaigners returned from a highly-successful day taking part in a national rally at Westminster, they spoke of their worries that a proposed £1 million refurbishment of the General may not go ahead.

And even worse ­- that could leave it at risk of closure.

Brian Nichols , one of the leaders of the Felixstowe Save Our Hospitals Action Group (SOHAG) said the big fear was what would happen if the Primary Care Trusts are merged and a new PCT created.

“We are very worried that a new PCT would turn round and say, we never made any promises to spend all that money on Felixstowe General - that was said by another authority,” he said.

Although PCT officials have spoken about turning Felixstowe General into a modern community hospital, they have not yet even put in for planning permission for changes they want to make - which would give the public greater confidence over it - or made any start on the project. They have also said the project can only happen if the Bartlet closes.

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Yesterday the focus was on the Bartlet again as a coachload of campaigners travelled from Felixstowe to London to take part in the rally at Old Palace Yard organised by Community Hospitals Acting Nationally Together (CHANT).

Hundreds of protesters from across the country attended the demonstration opposite the Houses of Parliament. Campaigners from Sudbury, Eye and Newmarket, whose community hospitals are set to be closed, also joined in the event.

Health Minister Patricia Hewitt - who is to make the final decision on the hospitals - was invited to speak but did not attend.

Mr Nichols said: “I thought it was an excellent rally and I was delighted to see so many people from different places, who all appeared to be facing similar problems to ourselves.”

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer said: “I cannot believe the closure of the Bartlet is to take place for clinical reasons - but apparently that is nothing to do with having to pay back £26 million debts!”

WEBLINK: www.chantonline.com

What do you think about the threat to Felixstowe's hospitals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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