Felixstowe: Vandals wreck old Bartlet Hospital

VANDALS have trashed one of Felixstowe’s most important buildings, it can be revealed today.

They have rampaged through the old Bartlet Hospital – leaving a shocking trail of damage and destruction.

The Evening Star was given an exclusive tour of the property by NHS bosses who are worried at the attacks on the building and its deterioration, showing how a major heritage asset is under threat and desperately needs new owners.

NHS Suffolk wants the Bartlet to have a new lease of life by being converted to luxury apartments.

Councillors have indicated they are minded to approve the project but talks are to take place over several outstanding issues, including what should happen to profit from the sale of the former convalescent home.

During the tour of the building it was revealed kitchens had been a playground for the vandals, with knives and forks all over the floors, tea pots and other utensils thrown around, and steel worktops, tables and other furnishings turned over.

Internal windows have been shattered, with all floors covered with broken glass, curtain rails and lights wrecked, and anything not nailed down thrown around for fun.

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In the corner of the ground floor reception office, there were remnants of a fire probably started by a vagrant keeping warm rather than an attempt to destroy the building.

NHS Suffolk estates staff believe the Bartlet Hospital on Bath Hill has been broken into at least six times in the past year.

It cost �90,000 last year to pay for security, urgent repairs, maintenance to prevent further deterioration, heating to stop cold damage and electricity for the fire alarms.

NHS Suffolk spokeswoman Karen Hindle said security patrols had been increased and the Suffolk police dog training unit was now using the site for training purposes.

The Suffolk Mental Health Partnership is also using the old annexe.

“The aim has been to have an increased presence to try to deter the vandals,” she said.

“The Bartlet is no longer fit for purpose for providing modern health care for a variety of reasons and we want it to have a new lease of life.”

The attractive old wall tiles – which English Heritage says must be preserved – cannot be kept in a health unit because they would harbour bacteria, putting new IT in would be a monumental cost, and with healthcare provided differently today there is no need or demand for convalescent beds.

Campaigners would disagree, but their only option to save the building would be to raise enough money to buy it and then test their theory by seeing if the NHS would commission its services.

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