Fears over bed closures

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Felixstowe's hospitals from closure are today "deeply concerned" over moves to close beds and treat people at home instead.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Felixstowe's hospitals from closure are today "deeply concerned" over moves to close beds and treat people at home instead.

Health bosses say they need to alter the way they care for people to make it more modern - and want people to convalesce at home with care teams visiting them to give treatment.

They say that's how it is done elsewhere in the country, and it means the Bartlet could be closed as surplus to requirement and sold to pay off debts.

Anne Taylor, joint clinical director for Suffolk East PCT, said any beds at Felixstowe in future would be "step up" beds rather than "step down" ones.

This would mean they would be used to treat people to prevent them having to go to Ipswich rather than as rehabilitation beds later.

Intermediate care teams going into people's homes and working in tandem with social services would be the way forward.

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"The evidence nationally is that people choose to remain in their own homes and if we support them with the right level of support they do retain their independence skills and have a lower dependency on social services," she said.

"We want to make more investment to support people in their own homes.

"Social services are working in partnership with all the agencies involved and regular meetings are taking place at very senior level."

In the seven months since the intermediate care team were formed at Felixstowe General Hospital, they had had 500 referrals.

It had only been possible to help half the people referred because at this stage the team does not provide 24-hour cover.

"It has been a huge success and there has been a growing amount of patient satisfaction and is highly regarded by the GPs," said Mrs Taylor.

"Everyone involved in the team is very excited about the project and expanding it into a seven-days-a-week service with night service, which is absolutely vital."

But Suffolk Coastal council chairman Malcolm Minns was not convinced and was still "deeply concerned" about the changes and felt they would hit social services hard, as its budget was already stretched to the limit.

"I have grave doubts because I find no optimistic evidence that recruitment is easy, am not satisfied that rates of pay are adequate to recruit people, and no indications that resources are increasing," he said.

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