Lack of cash will kill Bartlet hopes

WHAT is to become of Felixstowe’s former Bartlet Hospital?

It is four years this month since the primary care trust decided to sell it, and three years since it closed.

It remains unsold, its value reduced, and not regularly heated, lived-in, maintained or used, is surely slowly decaying.

The plan still seems to be to convert it into luxury apartments – more second homes with cracking seaviews for wealthy Londoners to enjoy at weekends – and I am sure they will sell for large sums despite the continuing economic situation.

No help at all to Felixstowe’s housing problems.

Campaigners – such as Barry Farr and Mike Ninnmey – have worked valiantly to try to persuade the powers-that-be that the Bartlet could still have a health use.

They would like to use it for respite care and convalescence – its former use – for people unable to return home immediately from hospital. It could also include complementary therapies and other clinics, plus community activities.

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Another possibility would be to provide care for injured soldiers.

The problems, as I see them, are two-fold: money, and willingness.

Health bosses simply do not have the will to be involved in such a project – they would dispute the need, and all they can see is a sold notice and pound signs. The primary care trust is also not long for this world and will soon be axed.

With or without NHS backing, in these times of cruel cuts, cash will be a substantial hurdle.

Using the building for homes has to be the worst option – though I can understand why it is so attractive to the health service – because it will rob the town of another marvellous building which could be used to benefit the community.

I just cannot see a new health use being feasible when the drive will be to centralise and reduce services.

? Is homes the best use for this lovely old building? Write to or Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

? Read Richard Cornwell’s full column every week in FX – the eight-page pull-out all about the Felixstowe area in the Evening Star every Wednesday.