Heated meeting on Suffolk's NHS

WE will fight to the bitter end - and we will win!That was the defiant message as more than 550 people packed into a meeting at Felixstowe to protest at proposals for cuts to the resort's health services, including closing the Bartlet Hospital.

WE will fight to the bitter end - and we will win!

That was the defiant message as more than 550 people packed into a meeting at Felixstowe to protest at proposals for cuts to the resort's health services, including closing the Bartlet Hospital.

Those against the plans vowed to keep up their protests and take them all the way to health minister Patricia Hewitt.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer told last night's meeting at St John's Church that the proposals were “outrageous” and urged everyone to write letters, join protests, and make their views known in every way possible.

“We must not give up, not give way, and not get tired until we have won,” he said.

“Anyone who says we cannot win should stop saying it now. It is going to be very hard indeed and some would say the odds are against us.

Most Read

“But you don't have a chance unless you try and it is surprising what you can achieve if you really try - it's time for Felixstowe to get on the march and win this battle.”

Mr Gummer said no-one believed the changes were for the better and the arguments people could be looked after better in their own homes rather than a convalescent or rehabilitation unit such as the Bartlet were inadequate.

He added there have been no answers had been given on the financial questions posed.

“I want to know how much it will cost to close the Bartlet and how much will they save by doing so, and how much will it cost to run the new system of looking after people at home,” he said.

“We all know there are no proper provisions for services in the community. The hospital will close and everyone will just find there is no hospital. It would be perfectly proper and sensible policy to put changes in place to see how they work first.”

The meeting heard from a panel of experts - Felixstowe GP Dr Janet Massey, Geoff Reason, Unison regional rep, Dr Alan Wimhurst, president of League of Friends of Felixstowe Hospitals, Jenny Brabazon of the Patient Involvement Forum, and consultant Dr Tim Lockington - about why the Bartlet should not close.

What they said . . .

“To allow people to go to a community hospital to be closer to home, closer to family, to get their composure back as well as their physical strength after a lengthy stay in an acute hospital is hugely valuable and I am furious it's going to be taken away.” Dr Tim Lockington, consultant geriatrician.

“To think of losing the Bartlet Hospital is ghastly. To shut it down and sell it off would be like stealing our best assets.” Dr Janet Massey, Felixstowe GP.

“To say the non-executive directors of the PCT are keeping a low profile is not a gross exaggeration of what they are doing. It's their duty to stand up for us.” Dr Alan Wimhurst, president of the League of Friends of Felixstowe Hospitals.

“The government says it is giving us choice today. Well, we want to keep our hospital - give us that choice.” Felixstowe resident Betty Rayner.

“If the financial situation was not as it is, would these changes be being made? If not, why are they 'Changes for the Better', as the consultation document calls them?” Rev Canon David Lowe, chaplain to Felixstowe hospitals.

“I asked Carole Taylor-Brown (Suffolk East Primary Care Trust's chief executive) if she could guarantee that Felixstowe General would still be here, safe and running in five years' time and she said no, she could not. We have really got to fight for both hospitals.” Gillian Ib, great-granddaughter of Charles Croydon, who built Felixstowe General Hospital.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter