Fresh protest over Bartlet

CAMPAIGNERS trying to save Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital from closure will have to persuade a judge to allow them to make a legal case to save it - because they have run out of time.

CAMPAIGNERS trying to save Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital from closure will have to persuade a judge to allow them to make a legal case to save it - because they have run out of time.

The Bartlet Bequest Action Group revealed today it is already “out of time” to seek action to overturn Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt's decision to shut the former convalescent unit and stop the sale of the building.

BBAG member Mike Ninnmey said: “We have instructed solicitors and lawyers to work on the case but first we have to persuade the court to let us bring a legal action.

“We are hoping to persuade the judge that there are issues which Ms Hewitt failed to address and which she and the Primary Care Trust should have taken into consideration.

“We will argue that the failure to look at these issues was one of the reasons why the Felixstowe Save Our Hospitals Action Group felt it could no longer continue the fight to save the Bartlet and we now find ourselves out of time.”

The main issue is the contention that Dr John Bartlet's wishes that the Bartlet building should remain a convalescent home - as he donated the money to build it and set up the trust fund to run it - in perpetuity.

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The group says these wishes are enshrined in High Court documents dating back decades and are still valid and the NHS has no right to change the use of the building on Bath Hill or sell it.

However, the PCT says its lawyers have checked and say there is no reason why it cannot be sold.

Campaigners held a short protest outside the Bartlet last weekend to mark its 81st birthday. They gathered with banners in the grounds and then toasted the building to mark the anniversary.

PCT officials are understood to be talking to three companies about the sale of the building, which currently houses services from Felixstowe General while the latter undergoes a £1.75 million refurbishment.

No details have yet been released of possible future uses but it is expected a planning application may have to be made for a change of use before a sale goes through.

Do you feel people should be able to convalesce in hospital, or is sending them home better? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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