Officials take advice on Bartlet sale

HEALTH officials say they have taken legal advice over the sale of the Bartlet Hospital at Felixstowe - and there is no reason why it cannot be sold.Campaigners have now raised enough money to start their legal action against Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt against her decision to close the convalescent unit.

HEALTH officials say they have taken legal advice over the sale of the Bartlet Hospital at Felixstowe - and there is no reason why it cannot be sold.

Campaigners have now raised enough money to start their legal action against Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt against her decision to close the convalescent unit.

In effect, the Bartlet on Bath Hill is already closed - as it currently houses only the services from Felixstowe General, which is undergoing a £1.75 million refurbishment to transform it into a modern community hospital. When the General is ready, all services will move back and the Bartlet will shut its doors for the last time.

The Bartlet Bequest Action Group (BBAG) has now raised between £5,000 and £10,000 to instruct barristers to start legal action.

The group will need £60,000 to see through its action, especially to cover any costs if it loses the case.

Martin Royal , Suffolk Primary Care Trust's director of business development, said: “We have taken legal advice over the development of the Bartlet site. The PCT remains satisfied the ownership and sale is legally sound.

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“Our plans have been endorsed for implementation by the Department of Health.

“The model of care is being carefully monitored to ensure it is delivering quality of care and meeting patients' needs appropriately.”

Barry Farr, vice-chairman of the BBAG, said: “We know we've got a fight on our hands but we feel we are justified in our opposition and have the moral argument.

“We have been very encouraged by the support we are getting and that has enabled us to push ahead with the idea of a legal challenge and start discussions with solicitors and barristers.

“The key message is that the Bartlet isn't just for the people of Felixstowe but for the whole of the east Suffolk community.”

BBAG argue that as the Bartlet was originally set up as a result of a bequest to bestow a convalescent home to the people of east Suffolk, which was confirmed by an order of the High Court in the 1920s, Ms Hewitt was in breach of that gift when she agreed Suffolk PCT's plans to close and sell the site.

Do you feel people should be able to convalesce in hospital, or is sending them home better? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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