NHS protest goes to Downing Street

HEALTH workers from all over Suffolk today took their campaign to stop jobs, hospitals and services from being slashed to the corridors of power ­- as they marched on Westminster.

at 8.45am

By RICHARD CORNWELL

Felixstowe editor

richard.cornwell@eveningstar.co.uk>


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HEALTH workers from all over Suffolk today took their campaign to stop jobs, hospitals and services from being slashed to the corridors of power ­- as they marched on Westminster.

Coachloads of NHS workers left Felixstowe, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Eye and Newmarket to travel to London to join a major protest organised by their union UNISON.

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Their aim was to make sure 10 Downing Street knows the deep concern being felt in the county about plans to axe services to cut debts now totalling £40 million - and that people are not happy about the government's lack of help and attitude.

Supporters of Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital - threatened with closure - boarded a coach to join the protest.

Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals action group campaigner Peter Mellor, joining workers for the trip, said: “We need to show the government at every opportunity just how wrong it would be to lose these community hospitals.

“What is being proposed to replace them will not work and we have not seen any real evidence that it could.”

A delegation from UNISON will meet health officials in London to discuss the situation, amid fears that up to 800 NHS jobs could be lost in Suffolk with “utter despair” among workers.

Cheryl Godber, the union's regional organiser, said: “Enough is enough! It is just not acceptable for the PCTs and trusts to respond to so-called overspending by proposing a massacre of health service provision in Suffolk.

“By taking the protest to Number 10, we hope to get a string message across to government that within Suffolk, we are not going to just take this lying down.”

Suffolk East PCT has not ruled out job cuts but has imposed a vacancy freeze so anyone who might lose their job could be offered employment.

Next Wednesday campaigners from Felixstowe will again visit Westminster when the 16,000-plus Evening Star petition against the health cuts will be delivered to the Department of Health.

A coachload of supporters will travel from Felixstowe with the petition, leaving at 8am, to meet Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, who has a meeting with Health Minister Patricia Hewitt.

If you would like to travel on the coach, please contact Roy Gray on 01394 285827 or Peter Mellor on 01394 277754. The cost is £5 and full name, address and date of birth is required for security checks.

WEBLINK: www.saveourhospitals.felixstowecommunity.co.uk

How can the NHS save money? Write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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