More pressure over health cuts

HEALTH chiefs today came under more pressure over their proposals to axe community hospitals to save money and help write-off millions of pounds of debts.

HEALTH chiefs today came under more pressure over their proposals to axe community hospitals to save money and help write-off millions of pounds of debts.

Both Suffolk's health scrutiny committee and Suffolk Coastal council lodged objections to the plans - demanding changes to ensure patients get the very best services for care and convalescence.

Councillors at Ipswich also expressed concern about the proposed changes.

Suffolk Coastal said it could not support the Primary Care Trust's plans “in anyway whatsoever” while the scrutiny body set out a list of demands before it could agree to change.

Both authorities are concerned at the proposed closure of the Bartlet Hospital in Felixstowe and the impact changes will have on residents, forced to go up and down the A14 for clinics.

They stressed the need for services closer to home, called for the proceeds of any sale of the Bartlet to be spent to develop services in Felixstowe, and questioned why the Bartlet should close when there is clearly a demand for its services.

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Coastal cabinet member Sherrie Green said: “This council feels that the current financial shortfalls and the responsibilities for them must lie with the PCT, not with the local people who will most definitely suffer from these drastic changes.

“I would say the reduction of beds for older people in community hospitals and of medical beds at Ipswich Hospital is an attack on the very core of what they should be providing and what our residents have every right to expect.”

The scrutinty committee is highly sceptical of the PCT's plans to send people home earlier from hospital to be looked after by travelling care teams.

It wants some convalescent beds retained, and changes over a longer period of time alongside community hospitals so it can be seen the new ideas work.

Ipswich council was especially concerned about threats to mental care services, at Bridge House in Lower Brook Street, at the Hollies and in other centres around the town.

However the health changes were defended by Labour councillors who said more money was being put into the health service in Suffolk and more people were being treated - even if the number of beds was falling.

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

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