Felixstowe health service reassurance

HEALTH bosses today reassured the public a project to improve a town's medical services was still going ahead – despite fears it had been shelved.There has been growing concern at the lack of action to bring new clinics to Felixstowe following the announcement a year ago of a revamp for its two hospitals and bright plans for the future.

HEALTH bosses today reassured the public a project to improve a town's medical services was still going ahead - despite fears it had been shelved.

There has been growing concern at the lack of action to bring new clinics to Felixstowe following the announcement a year ago of a revamp for its two hospitals and bright plans for the future.

With mounting debts facing the Primary Care Trusts, some community leaders still believe Felixstowe General Hospital's future to be uncertain since its wards were closed and the beds transferred to the resort's Bartlet Hospital.

Councillor Malcolm Minns claimed health provision in the town was "a mess" and has persuaded Suffolk Coastal council to look at the matter urgently.


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MP John Gummer has also received complaints and concerns from residents and is holding a public meeting to review the situation.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Felixstowe and Bartlet support group, has also expressed concern - especially over the news the Ravenswood rehabiltation unit at Ipswich may not have as many beds available as first thought.

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This has raised fresh fears Ipswich people could be sent to the Bartlet to recuperate, when it was said the unit would be for Felixstowe people only when its beds were cut.

The Bartlet still has 50 beds but now only 25 of them are for rehabilitation. The remaining 25 being those previously in the Felixstowe General and operated by local GPs.

"The plan was to convert Felixstowe General to various clinics and consultancy rooms, but we don't know if the money is available," said Mr Gray.

"Is this, one wonders, leading to a sale of the General, which would no doubt assist the financial situation the PCTs are in.

"We fought to keep the Bartlet open and we will fight again to have the facilities and beds as promised and not lose the General."

However, the General may not be sold, but it looks increasingly likely a former house next to it plus the annexe at the Bartlet could be.

Health services are gradually moving out of the house. The physiotherapy unit could be moved to the General from the annexe, and the PCT - also based there - is known to be looking for a new headquarters.

A report by joint clinical director Anne Taylor and director of service delivery and improvement Janice Steed said the Felixstowe project phase one - transferring all beds to the Bartlet - had been completed in December.

They wanted to reassure the public over phase two as there was a perception that the PCT was no longer committed to providing additional services.

Work was now under way on this with some services moving to the General, assessments being done of consultant outreach clinics to ensure they meet the right needs before being brought in, and cash is being secured for building work.

Opinion - page 6

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