Hospital closure on residents' agenda

RESIDENTS are being invited to attend a special meeting to hear health chiefs being quizzed about their proposals to cut medical services in Felixstowe.

RESIDENTS are being invited to attend a special meeting to hear health chiefs being quizzed about their proposals to cut medical services in Felixstowe.

Suffolk East Primary Care Trust has announced it is to close the Bartlet Hospital and make changes to services at Felixstowe General to help it write off millions of pounds of debt.

Instead of people being sent in future for rehabilitation and convalescence, they will be sent home much earlier to be looked after by special travelling teams of carers.

On Thursday at 7.30pm PCT officials will attend an extraordinary meeting of Felixstowe Town Council to explain the situation.

The meeting at Broadway House, the senior citizens' centre in Orwell Road, will be open to the public – though they will be able to listen, but not speak.

Councillors, who have already written in the strongest possible terms to the PCT to object to any plans to close the Bartlet, will then consider their response to the public consultation and any further action.

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One of the main concerns is that the PCT's proposals will move the costs of care from the health service to the county council social services by closing beds and insisting people are treated in their homes – potentially putting up council tax dramatically.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals action group, hoped as many people as possible would attend to hear the latest situation.

He said: "Personally, I think this public consultation is a waste of time – they have already made up their mind what they are going to do and no matter how much we protest, our views will be ignored.

"We have already had to challenge the fact that patients were not being admitted to the Bartlet, and now we hear some equipment is being moved out and assigned to other hospitals.

"The next move will be a halving of the total number of beds, which they have already agreed.

"But we will keep on fighting as hard as we can and will not give up – it is very short-sighted and wrong to close this hospital in a growing town with an increasing elderly population."

The PCT believes it could raise £3.5 million by selling the Bartlet for conversion for luxury flats.

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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