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Lives could be lost - Doctors warning

PUBLISHED: 11:26 26 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:57 02 March 2010

DOCTORS today warned lives could be put at risk if Felixstowe's General Hospital is axed.

The GPs claim its closure would mean more suffering, pain and inconvenience for the people of Suffolk.

DOCTORS today warned lives could be put at risk if Felixstowe's General Hospital is axed.

The GPs claim its closure would mean more suffering, pain and inconvenience for the people of Suffolk.

And they said the move could cost actually cost more money than it saves, with an increased burden placed on health services elsewhere.

The future of the hospital has been threatened as the county's health bosses seek to avert a major cash crisis.

The three east Suffolk primary care trusts are currently overspending by £2,000 every hour, and have debts of about £40million.

But the doctors have given their "total support" to both the General and the Bartlet, which is facing losing half of its 50 beds.

Central Surgery, Haven Health, Howard House and Walton practices released a joint statement, which has also been sent to Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer.

They say they were not consulted before the General's ward was closed and its beds transferred to the Bartlet.

The first they knew about its possible closure was via the news, and only recently were they assured the General's minor injuries unit was safe.

"All of the local practices have been fully committed to the Felixstowe General Hospital and have provided an excellent, convenient, cost-effective service to local patients for half a century," they said.

"The x-ray and ENT equipment was largely funded by local practices using their own fund-holding savings.

"All of the Felixstowe surgeries were designed and built with the expectation that minor injuries would be treated at Felixstowe General.

"Our surgeries lack the necessary waiting rooms, treatment rooms, staff and facilities to provide a minor injury service. It would be impossible to provide a local x-ray service, leg ulcer and comprehensive out patient clinics in any of our surgeries.

"If the Felixstowe General closes most of these services would simply cease to be provided in our town and many patients would have to travel to Ipswich Hospital for treatment."

The doctors added the importance of the General to the town in recent years cannot be underestimated.

They said: "Over the years many patients have benefited from prompt life saving treatment at Felixstowe General. If Felixstowe General closes patients will suffer unnecessary inconvenience, delay and pain but some may die.

"There will also be redundancy of the dedicated nurses and non-medical staff who have provided excellent service over many years."

Closing the hospital would provide a small one-off saving but there would be greater overall expense will more ambulance transport costs and Ipswich Hospital would have to provide its services, they added.

panel:

IF you haven't signed the Evening Star petition yet, there will be a chance at The Triangle in Felixstowe town centre tomorrow .

Campaigners will be manning a table in Hamilton Road from 9.30am to midday.

Thousands of people have so far signed the petition and forms have been placed in all Felixstowe's doctor's surgeries and chemists, as well as a number of shops and other outlets. They can also be signed at the AdCenta in Solar.

Alternatively, people can sign the petition form on this page and send it to the new Evening Star offices at 172 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe.


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