One man's fight to save Bartlet

A PENSIONER whose wife's life was saved by Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital today vowed to carry on fighting to save it from closure - and hopes to take a case to the High Court.

A PENSIONER whose wife's life was saved by Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital today vowed to carry on fighting to save it from closure - and hopes to take a case to the High Court.

Charles Dewen has been told by solicitors there is a “good chance” he could get legal aid for a judicial review of heath secretary Patricia Hewitt's decision to shut the convalescent unit.

Campaigners in Felixstowe - as revealed in yesterday's Evening Star - have decided to end their action because they do not want to put the Felixstowe General in jeopardy.

Mr Dewen, 69, of Kingsfleet Road, Felixstowe, said he was “deeply sad and very angry” at the loss of the Bartlet.

He said: “While there is still a tiny ray of hope, I believe we should carry on fighting. We must not give up.

“The Bartlet is vitally important. I do not believe the health service will be able to care for people in their own homes. Some people have no-one to go home to, they need somewhere like the Bartlet to convalesce and get well, with nurses nearby at all times.

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“I would hate to see the General lost, though I believe in two or three years time we will probably see more cuts and be fighting to save that but I believe the Bartlet must stay.”

Mr Dewen's wife Eve, 76, was sent to the Bartlet to convalesce last year because she was suffering from a variety of ailments, including emphysema bronchiectasis and breathing problems.

At one stage doctors told Mr Dewen she would not live through the night and asked him which undertaker he would prefer when the moment came.

He says the constant care she received pulled her through.

“The staff at the Bartlet saved Eve's life. She couldn't come home or go into a nursing home because she was so ill - the Bartlet was the only place for her.

“What will happen to people like Eve in future? They will be sent home and visited occasionally by busy nurses.

“Eve is really well now. She doesn't need an oxygen tank any more. For her birthday I was able to hire a limousine and take her for a special meal - a year ago I was thinking about planning her funeral.”

Mr Dewen said while there was strong hope barristers and a judge could agree legal aid for a case, he may still need to raise about £3,000 funding towards the case.

The PCT expects fewer people to need long-term convalescence in future, but there will still be a range of options for people who do. Depending on their individual needs and circumstances this could mean commissioning beds from other providers or funding places in nursing homes.

Weblink: www.suffolkeast.nhs.uk

How do you feel about the imminent closure of the Bartlet? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

See page 4 for Suffolk Primary Care Trust's new headquarters and Opinion

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