Health staff jobs future discussed

STAFF at Felixstowe's two hospitals are being invited to attend workshops to discuss a radical shake-up to the town's health services – and see how their jobs will change.

STAFF at Felixstowe's two hospitals are being invited to attend workshops to discuss a radical shake-up to the town's health services – and see how their jobs will change.

Health bosses have pledged that no jobs will be lost and that the staff are highly valued and a key factor of the success of the project which is being drawn up.

But some workers will find their roles changing, and there will be a chance for some to learn new skills.

A steering group is now being set-up to work out the details of the changes of the resort's health services following a major public consultation exercise called A Fresher Future for Felixstowe.

The main aim will be to transfer more out patient clinics to the town from Ipswich Hospital to provide care closer to home and remove the need to travel.

The minor injuries unit – used by 15,000 people a year – will be expanded and continue to be open 24 hours a day.

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Diagnostic services, such as the x-ray unit and ultrasound, will be increased, and physiotherapy and occupational therapy moved from the Bartlet on Bath Hill into the General in Constable Road.

The General will become a day out patient hospital while the Bartlet will become an in-patient hospital, but will lose 30 beds as there will be a reduction in the number of convalescent beds to make way for GP-controlled beds.

Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust chief executive Ana Selby said staff had mixed feelings about the changes but most were in favour.

Over the next few months a series of workshops would be held for staff so they can have an input into how the changes will be made.

"All staff are valued by the PCT, through any change they will be offered support and development opportunities to enhance their skills and work more closely with other agencies such as the voluntary sector, Ipswich Hospital and social care," said Mrs Selby.

It was obviously a worrying time for many staff as people often did not like change, and the aim was to get on as quickly as possible with the changes.

She said one of the main areas where discussions were needed was in how the 24-hour minor injury unit would be staffed once GP beds were moved. The unit was not used much at night but there was a need to find a way of getting staff to the unit at the moment help was required.

"We will need to look at a different way of delivering that service during the night as it is proposed that the staff who currently provide this service will transfer with the relocation of GP beds to the Bartlet," she said.

While all existing staff will be kept, there will be less use of agency staff, which will create savings, and also provide continuity for in-patients as far as care is concerned and also for staff in creating working teams.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal-pct.nhs.uk

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PART of the Bartlet Hospital at Felixstowe could be sold off.

Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust currently uses the annexe at the entrance to the rehabilitation and convalescent unit as its headquarters.

But the trust believes its HQ should be more centrally based in the district and is considering asking the Ministry of Defence if it could move to the medical centre at the Woodbridge RAF base.

This would allow the annexe – the last surviving wing of the original Bath Hotel, destroyed by suffragettes who set light to it during their campaign for women's voting rights a century ago – to be sold for around £526,000.

That money could then be ploughed back into the development of health care at Felixstowe and some of the work needed at the General or Bartlet.

However, no final decisions have yet been taken and it may be decided that the annexe could be used as a staff training centre, one of its former uses.