New front in Bartlet battle

CAMPAIGNERS fighting a fresh battle to try to save the Bartlet Hospital at the 11th hour are staging a meeting in Ipswich to try to widen their support.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting a fresh battle to try to save the Bartlet Hospital at the 11th hour are staging a meeting in Ipswich to try to widen their support.

Although the convalescent and rehabilitation unit is in Felixstowe, it has always served a much bigger area - with people from virtually all over the county sent there to recuperate.

The campaign is launching a legal challenge against health minister Patricia Hewitt, who has said the Bartlet must close, and plans to take the government to the High Court, but will have to raise £60,000 for lawyers.

To start to widen its campaign and gain extra funding and support, it is holding a meeting at St Augustine's Church, Bucklesham Road, Ipswich, on Monday April 30 at 7.30pm.

A spokeswoman for the Bartlet Bequest Action Group said the hospital was given to the people of east Suffolk by Dr John Henry Bartlet in his will in 1914 with sufficient funds to maintain it, though this money seems since to have been swallowed up in NHS budgets.

“The closure of the Bartlet convalescent home will further diminish medical recovery facilities for the people,” said action group chairman Elizabeth Pearce.

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“The convalescent home must remain available to the medical services within the east Suffolk area for the benefit of all people within the catchment area.

“The convalescent home is relied upon by not only patients, but the other hospitals within the region.

“Without the Bartlet to provide the fundamental purpose of specialist rehabilitation to recovering patients recovery times will be lengthened, bed blocking in the acute sector will increase creating more work and less beds throughout the county. This will further increase waiting lists for patients and put extra strain on overworked staff.

“It is highly questionable whether Felixstowe needs more luxury flats developed at the expense of the health of wider Suffolk community.”

The Suffolk Primary Care Trust is talking to potential purchasers about the sale of the Bartlet and hopes to complete a deal this year.

Do you think it is too late to save the Bartlet now - are the campaigners wasting their time? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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