Health cuts - a difficult decision

ON the day that a swathe of health services in east Suffolk look set to be axed, the health bosses responsible for making the decisions have spoken of the difficulties they face.

ON the day that a swathe of health services in east Suffolk look set to be axed, the health bosses responsible for making the decisions have spoken of the difficulties they face.

As campaigners made impassioned last minute pleas to the board of the Suffolk East PCTs, board members told of the “uncomfortable” position they are in, being forced to balance better patient care with saving money.

Brian Keeble, director of public health for the Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), said: “I would imagine it's had a major effect on most of the board members, particularly for people like me who are doctors and nurses that got in to medicine wanting to do good and improve things. It's hard to then find yourself in a position with a lot of people unhappy with the decisions you are looking to make.

“The nature of the NHS is that things move on and things change, and buildings are very often the casualties of that.

“It's not a very comfortable position to be in but it comes with the turf. Sometimes you have to make decisions that people won't like.”

Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of the PCTs, said she was looking forward to being able to begin making changes which will have great benefits for patients

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“I feel it's a very important decision and I think it's actually quite an exciting decision.

“What we are trying to do is change services in a way that will allow more people access to them.

“It does mean that we may have to close buildings and I understand the feelings that some people have got about that but we have to make decisions based on what's best across the whole of east Suffolk.”

Tony Robinson, chairman of the Suffolk East PCTs, echoed her thoughts. He said: “The board has got a tough set of decisions to make today.

“We understand the interest and involvement of patients and the public in all the local health services but we have to make decisions that take in to account the better pattern of care and also the continuing, relentless search for financial stability.”

Pat Potter took over as acting chair of Central Suffolk PCT in April last year, unaware of the massive changes that were soon to take place, said: “It has been very tough. I have been acting chair since last April and absolutely did not know what the year was going to be like, although even if I did I would still have taken the post.

“It has been very hard knowing that you are not taking the public with you. It is not comfortable being unpopular. Particularly when you have had a personal and professional reputation for working with people.”

Mrs Potter added it had been frustrating knowing that if they had had more time they may have been able to show people the exact details of what they were doing, such as the addition of more community nurses and intermediate care in the region, along with a six month change over period, which may have alleviated fears over the future of healthcare in the region.

She said she was disappointed that £2million of the £26million debt that Suffolk East Primary Care Trust was actually penalties to be paid to the Government for overspending this year while trying to make the necessary changes to meet their demands.

Three of the most important meetings in the history of Suffolk's NHS were due to take place today.

At 9.30am members of the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust's board met at the Trinity Rooms at the Suffolk showground, while Ipswich Hospital's board were due to meet at 10.30am at the hospital.

They will be discussing the proposed closures that are relevant to them (eg. All the mental health services and the Hayward Day Hospital), but will not have the final say on whether they go ahead.

Their opinions will be reported to the PCTs board meeting, which begins at 1pm, and used by them to help form the final decisions.

These services will know their fate by the end of the day:

The Bartlet hospital, Felixstowe

The Hayward Day Hospital, Ipswich

Mental health day hospitals in Kesgrave, Stowmarket and Saxmundham

The Pines Therapy Centre at St Clement's

The Hollies' garden centre at St Clement's

Bridge House clubhouse in Ipswich

Old Fox House clubhouse in Stowmarket

Three day hospitals in Stowmarket, Kesgrave and Saxmundham

Hartismere Hospital in Eye

Aldeburgh Hospital

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