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Fury as beds cut at the Bartlet

PUBLISHED: 00:45 25 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:57 02 March 2010

WORRIED staff at Felixstowe's hospitals have been left reeling today after being told the Bartlet is set to lose half its beds.

All workers at the two hospitals were called to an emergency meeting by Primary Care Trust officials to hear the plan to be put to the PCT board next week.

WORRIED staff at Felixstowe's hospitals have been left reeling today after being told the Bartlet is set to lose half its beds.

All workers at the two hospitals were called to an emergency meeting by Primary Care Trust officials to hear the plan to be put to the PCT board next week.

The idea is that the Bartlet convalescent and rehabilitation unit will be cut to just 25 beds, and it is feared the rest of the General's services and clinics would be shoe-horned into the rest of the building.

Staff – who were briefed by John Such, assistant director of Suffolk East PCTs – now fear there could be job losses, and campaigners say the same services could not be provided in just one hospital.

Merging the hospitals would allow closure of the General and sale of its site for several million to clear some of the £18.4m debts facing the PCTs.

The Bartlet originally had around 50 beds for rehabilitation. These were split into separate uses – rehabilitation and general - last autumn when the GP-managed beds at the General were transferred to it.

The idea then was that the General would become an out-patient unit with extra clinics, while the Bartlet would be an in-patient hospital.

It was argued the Bartlet would need less beds as a new rehab unit was being opened at Ravenswood in Ipswich, and there would be more care in the home for patients discharged.

However it has since emerged that due to the closure of St Edmunds nursing home in Ipswich residents from there would be moving to Ravenswood leaving no more extra beds than before.

The Bartlet would be for Felixstowe area people only.

However, the GP beds have been used for rehab patients and now will be cut.

Roy Gray, one of the leaders of the campaign to save the General, said he was deeply shocked by the suggestion to cut beds.

He said: "If this was to be allowed it would be very serious, not only for the people of Felixstowe but Ipswich and east Suffolk.

"We must also think of the staff who could be affected. These proposals must not be allowed."

Alan Wimhurst, a former GP and president of the League of Friends of Felixstowe Hospitals, said: "I don't know how they would get everything from the General into the Bartlet, such as the X-ray unit.

"But the main thing is we cannot afford to lose these beds. The Bartlet is almost always full. What is going to happen in winter when Ipswich Hospital is full and there is no pressure release valve because the Bartlet only has half as many beds as it did?

"It seems to me the people who are planning these ideas have nothing to do with the treatment of the sick and are pretty happy they don't even have to worry about the consequences. Don't worry about the sick – it's saving money that matters.

"If they accept this plan it will cause serious damage to the treatment of the sick throughout the area."

PCTs' chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown said "absolutely no decisions" had been taken yet.


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