Legal challenge hope for hospital

CAMPAIGNERS fighting for Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital today said they may launch a legal challenge to try to stop its closure.Despite Suffolk East Primary Care Trust's decision to axe the convalescent and rehabilitation unit as part of money-saving plans, protesters say the battle is not over yet.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting for Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital today said they may launch a legal challenge to try to stop its closure.

Despite Suffolk East Primary Care Trust's decision to axe the convalescent and rehabilitation unit as part of money-saving plans, protesters say the battle is not over yet.

If the county health and scrutiny committee reject the PCT's decision, the matter will then go the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Our Hospitals Felixstowe action group, said: “We are very disappointed at the PCT's decision but it is not the end.

“We are now bringing all the pressure we can to bear on the scrutiny committee, which meets at the end of next month, and have already written a letter to its members urging them to reject the PCT's decision.

“Nationally, more pressure is being put on the government because we are not the only area which is facing hospital closures - more than 80 hospitals are at risk across the country.

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“We are passionate about the Bartlet and it would be a great tragedy if it was to close. Patients in this area will never have the same level of care again if it goes and people will suffer badly.”

Mr Gray said possible legal challenges were being investigated and court action could follow.

One avenue being explored is that the consultation process, Changing for the Better, was not legal as it did not offer the public options to choose from for future care - simply told them what would happen and asked for their views.

“There are other possible legal challenges, too, but I cannot go into these at this stage,” he added.

The PCT plans to discharge people quicker from hospital to be cared for at home by travelling care teams - what opponents call “the galloping night nurse model” - who drive from house to house, giving care.

The trust is also aiming to bring in treatment programmes to prevent people needing to be admitted to hospital in the first place.

Are you worried about the changes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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