Public meeting on health cuts nears

CLOSING and selling Felixstowe's precious Bartlet Hospital will not solve the health service's crippling financial problems – and a real solution needs to be found, campaigners said today.

CLOSING and selling Felixstowe's precious Bartlet Hospital will not solve the health service's crippling financial problems – and a real solution needs to be found, campaigners said today.

The group leading the fight to save the hospital said the £3.5 million which could be made from selling off the rehabilitation and convalescent unit is "peanuts" as far as the Primary Care Trust's debts go.

Tomorrow night the Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals action group is holding a Health Crisis Meeting at 7pm at St John's Church, Orwell Road, Felixstowe, to explain to the public why it would be a disaster to close the Bartlet.

Roy Gray, chairman of the action group, said: "The church seats around 600 and we are hoping for a really good turn out.

"Our panel, which will include GPs from the town, the patient forum, health unions, Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer and others, will explain why the Bartlet is so vital and the impact its closure will have on medical services in the area.

"This is a chance for people to find out why we need to save it and why these changes are certainly not 'changes for the better' as the PCT would have us believe."

Most Read

Campaigner Norman Thompson, chairman of East Suffolk Association for the Blind, renewed calls for the government to write-off the debts and let the PCT start afresh.

He said: "If they close the Bartlet and sell it, it will make no difference at all – it will take a year to sell and the debts will have risen even more by then.

"I think the only way of doing it is for the government to write-off the debts, though that still will not be enough. The management system needs a thorough rethink to cut these costs right down.

"When I was in hospital recently, the nurses spent as much time filling in forms, which someone else later had to input into a computer, as they did nursing.

"Protests are all very well and proper, but we must also come forward with a proper solution to these problems."

The public consultation period is now at its half-way stage.

Jeremy Peters, head of communications for Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts, said all views had to be in by October 31, and the following month would be spent analysing them and compiling a report. It was expected a final decision would be made on November 30.

"There will be a lot of work in preparing the document to make sure it reflects the views of the people who have responded. We are grateful that we have had a lot of responses already – there has been a huge amount of interest and we look forward to getting a lot more in the next few weeks," he said.

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

WEBLINKS: www.saveourhospitals.felixstowecommunity.co.uk

www.suffolkcoastal-pct.nhs.uk

www.suffolkeast.nhs.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter