'Health cuts have to be made'

A TOP health boss has warned that if closures to community hospitals do not go ahead, there will have to be other equally hard changes made to services instead.

A TOP health boss has warned that if closures to community hospitals do not go ahead, there will have to be other equally hard changes made to services instead.

Speaking at a consultation meeting last night, Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of the Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts, said the public are being listened to, but stressed there was no escaping the financial crisis faced by Suffolk's NHS.

She said: “It's possible board members may feel that, having listened to what's been said in the public consultation, they can't support some of these proposals.

“That simply means we would have to come up with more proposals - we've built up a debt and we have to recover it.


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“I wouldn't want anyone to go away from this meeting thinking when we end this consultation period you won't see anymore.

“There will be more consultations and more recovery plans coming forward.”

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The Suffolk East PCTs are currently consulting on a document called Changing for the Better, which includes proposals to close the Bartlet Hospital in Felixstowe, Hartismere Hospital in Eye, the Hayward Day Hospital at Ipswich Hospital and a number of mental health services.

Last night's meeting, which was chaired by Ipswich MP Chris Mole, was a chance for the public to air their views and ask questions on the proposed changes.

Concern was expressed over the apparent lack of services in place in the community, both for elderly people and mental health patients.

Mrs Taylor-Brown denied that the financial situation was the only reason for the proposals being put forward.

She said: “We are trying to change the model of care. It does have some financial gain but, more significantly, it's about improving patient services.”

Mrs Taylor-Brown confirmed that she would be asking the boards of the individual PCTs to consider extending the consultation period until November 30 - it was originally scheduled to end on October 31.

She added that the PCTs would be looking at many different ways of engaging with the public throughout this extra period, including some drop-in “market stall” type events.

How do you think the PCTs should address their debt problems? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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