Hospital fight goes to meeting

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a Felixstowe hospital from closure are today gearing up for a massive protest to ensure health bosses are in no doubt over public feeling.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a Felixstowe hospital from closure are today gearing up for a massive protest to ensure health bosses are in no doubt over public feeling.

Leaders are planning to blockade a major meeting next week - to surround the venue, fill its car park with people with banners and placards, and prevent the decision-makers getting in.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals group, said: “We want hundreds of people to be there - as many as we possibly can.

“We want to show the Primary Care Trust that people really do care about the Bartlet Hospital and the cuts they are making to other services in the area.

“We want them to know in the strongest terms that we don't want them to make these cuts. They will be bad for our health services now and very bad for the future. They will have to find the savings from elsewhere.”

The meeting where the protest will take place is the Suffolk East PCTs' combined board and annual meeting on Wednesday September 28 at Kesgrave War Memorial Community Centre.

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Although the meeting starts at 10.15am, Mr Gray wants people to start assembling between 8am and 9am.

“We need to get there as early as possible because we want to surround the building, several people deep, and ensure the PCT members cannot get inside,” he said.

“They have to know how people feel. We are disgusted they will not talk about this issue - even the non-executive members who are the community's representatives - and we are concerned about the consultation that is taking place,” he said.

“If the public's overwhelming view is the Bartlet should stay open and other changes and cuts not take place, then they should listen to our views and carry that out.”

More than 15,000 people have signed a petition - spearheaded by The Evening Star and organised by the action group - against the closure.

The PCT believes the Bartlet convalescent and rehabilitation unit will not be necessary in the future as it plans to send people home earlier from hospital to be looked after by teams of travelling carers.

The Bartlet could be sold for conversion for luxury flats for around £3.5 million to cut the trust's multi-million pound debts.

The PCT has stressed no decisions on the future of health services will be made at the Kesgrave meeting as consultation is still going on.

WEBLINK: www.saveourhospitals.felixstowecommunity.co.uk

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

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