Patient's plea to save hospital

CRASH survivor Daniel Holmes today hit out at health chiefs' decision to close Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital - saying it would be a tragedy and a disgrace.

CRASH victim Daniel Holmes today hit out at health chiefs' decision to close Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital - saying it would be a tragedy and a disgrace.

The convalescent and rehabilitation unit has been a God-send for brave trucker Mr Holmes, who was rescued from his burning lorry just seconds before it exploded into a fireball on the A14.

His legs on fire, screaming in agony, he hauled himself out of his burning cab, determined not to die as two men rushed to pull him clear just in time.

Mr Holmes had third degree burns covering 40 per cent of both legs, and burns on his arms.

His right leg was broken and has since been amputated; his right shoulder blade was broken and dislocated. He had tunnel vision.

For the 39-year-old, the Bartlet is the last stop in a long and painful recovery - bringing him closer to his home and fiancée in Felixstowe at a time when he still needs constant hospital care.

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Today he backed the Evening Star's campaign to save the Bartlet and other health services under threat across Suffolk.

Suffolk East Primary Care Trust plans to discharge people earlier from hospital in future to be looked after by travelling care teams.

“I couldn't have stayed in Ipswich Hospital - they just haven't got the beds and it is not the right sort of hospital to convalesce in,” he said.

“The Bartlet is just brilliant - the staff are fantastic and the atmosphere is perfect for recuperation, it's so calm and the sea views are wonderful. My fiancee can visit me every day.

“What is going to happen when Ipswich is full and extra beds are needed? There is a whole ward upstairs just sitting there doing nothing - it is a disgrace.”

Mr Holmes was treated in the specialist burns unit, Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, where he underwent lengthy skin graft operations, followed by four weeks in intensive care.

He can remember every detail about the accident on the A14 at 5.30am on June 10 last year.

“I came over the hill and I could see there had been an accident in the other carriageway. Then I saw ahead of me a lorry had stopped in my lane but was not fully off the road,” said Mr Holmes, who served in the Household Cavalry.

“I looked in my mirror and indicated to pull out, looked back to check again and then realised there was not enough time - I just hit the lorry and mine span over. It came to a halt and I just started shouting for help.”

He could see trucker Leslie Bushnell and security officer Ken Buxton wanting to help but paramedics dealing with the accident in the opposite carriageway called them back.

“There was no way I was going to be burned alive in my cab. I got myself loose and started to drag myself out of the cab and then the two men came running and pulled me clear and told me to roll towards the central reservation, away from the burning lorry.”

His fiancée Clare Bower, 32, said: “As they took him down to theatre, he said, 'Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere - I'll be back'.

“I am sure it is his army training and service which has helped him through all this. He is so stubborn and a very determined man. He didn't panic when the crash happened - he was just determined not to die in that cab.”

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