Parliament to hear of health cuts

MP John Gummer is to raise in Parliament the possible closure of one of Felixstowe's hospitals to highlight the cuts Suffolk is facing to its health services.

MP John Gummer is to raise in Parliament the possible closure of one of Felixstowe's hospitals to highlight the cuts Suffolk is facing to its health services.

The Suffolk Coastal MP said the county receives an unfair share-out of government funding for medical services – and the proposed cuts to get rid of debts were the most concerted attack on the NHS since it was created.

Mr Gummer, who is fully behind the Evening Star's Hands Off The General campaign and the work of the Save Felixstowe Hospitals Group, is urging everyone to keep up the protests and make their voice heard.

He said: "I have received several hundred letters with the thoughts, concerns and reminiscences of care at the General and Bartlet hospitals.

"I am most encouraged by the strength of support for the hospitals and shall ensure that the matter is raised in Parliament."

He said the government had ordered the Strategic Health Authority to tell the Primary Care Trust that it must close and sell one of the resort's hospitals.

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Mr Gummer said: "All the promises that we were given before the general election have been broken.

"The government insists that every PCT get out of the red this financial year. This is impossible in Suffolk without permanent closures and permanent damage to the NHS.

"We must not allow Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, to say it is our fault.

"Here in Suffolk Coastal, we are given less than average government grant although we have a very high proportion of the old and frail.

"The share-out is unfair. We have been given less money to do a bigger job."

The next stage in the battle is a meeting of the county council overview and scrutiny committee on July 13 – it has no powers to stop the PCT, but can comment and oppose the proposals and demand full public consultation.

He urged people to write to county councillor Jane Midwood, chairman of the committee, district councillors and himself to demand rejection of the cuts.

He said: "There will be ward closures in Ipswich Hospital and the services at Aldeburgh Hospital are also threatened.

"There will be no Saxmundham one-stop shop. So this all adds up to the most concerted attack on the NHS in Suffolk since it was first created. We must not give way."

Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust has stressed that no decisions have yet been made, but has started a detailed analysis of Felixstowe's NHS buildings to draw up options for the future with the aim of cuttings its enormous debts.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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