Joy as two county hospitals saved

FELIXSTOWE was given the best possible early Christmas present today – a top-level assurance that its two hospitals are safe.Fears had been growing for the units – especially the General – after health chiefs announced that their future was to be reviewed and that they were becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to adapt.

FELIXSTOWE was given the best possible early Christmas present today – a top-level assurance that its two hospitals are safe.

Fears had been growing for the units – especially the General – after health chiefs announced that their future was to be reviewed and that they were becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to adapt.

But today bosses at the Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust (PCT) said neither the General or the Bartlet would be closing, and that both would be kept open and medical services in the town improved.

In addition, the public will be asked which medical services they want to see provided at the resort – with the possibility of more out-patient clinics for different care, cutting down on the travel to Ipswich


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"The first thing to say is that the future of The Bartlet and Felixstowe General Hospital is safe. There will be no loss of beds for local people, and

no loss of jobs for staff," said Ana Selby, PCT chief executive.

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"What we want to do is to provide better healthcare for local people and to make sure that the right care, in the right place, at the right time is available for everyone.

"The NHS is changing, and changing for the better – putting people at the centre of healthcare. Change in Suffolk Coastal will be planned in partnership with all our communities and staff.

"Our starting point will be listening to people, gathering the viewpoints, ideas and suggestions of our communities and staff to develop a shared vision for the future. What people say matters – and will influence what happens.

"There is no master plan already drawn up just a clear commitment to bring better healthcare."

Over the next six months the PCT will consult with patients, interested groups and organisations, to see how they view the future of Felixstowe's health services and what they would like to see.

It will involve "listening days" with public and staff, open meetings with local groups, and using the trust's web site.

Martin Smith, PCT vice chairman, said the aim was to add to projects such as the new £1 million state-of-the-art Howard House surgery in Felixstowe, the planned Saxmundham one-stop shop and family centre, and deliver more care closer to home, such as chemotherapy in GP practices.

"Our Felixstowe hospitals will continue to be a vitally important component of healthcare locally and throughout East Suffolk – so bringing new life and freshness to them is a priority for us," he said.

News that the hospitals are safe was welcomed by campaigners.

Former mayor Malcolm Minns said: "I am extremely pleased and greatly relieved to hear the assurances given by the PCT management.

"But I do believe we must continue to keep an eye on the situation because the capital value of these two hospitals must continue to be of great attraction to the trust in its present financial difficulties. We want to see services increased, not reduced."

Meanwhile, there was more good news in the NHS today as it announced that nationally waiting times have been slashed and the numbers of new doctors and nurses are up by more than 45,000.

A new report reveals the number of patients waiting more than six months for operations has fallen by 28.5pc in the past year and the number waiting more than 13 weeks to see a doctor as an outpatient has dropped 38pc.

Waiting times at Ipswich Hospital have seen considerable reductions during the last year but in the last couple of months some operations have had to be cancelled because of a surge in emergency admissions.

The hospital still has too many people waiting more than the 17 week and 9 month targets.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the hospital said that a recruitment drive had ensured high calibre nursing staff were constantly being employed and were staying and that the Trust had a less than four per cent vacancy rate which is good compared to other hospitals of that size.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal-pct.nhs.uk

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