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Star backs bid to save hospital

PUBLISHED: 00:55 21 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:56 02 March 2010

IT'S time to stand up and be counted – and make your voice heard today on the future of Felixstowe's hospital.

That was the message as the campaign to save the unit from closure got into full swing with protesters determined to fight all the way to the bitter end.

IT'S time to stand up and be counted – and make your voice heard today on the future of Felixstowe's hospital.

That was the message as the campaign to save the unit from closure got into full swing with protesters determined to fight all the way to the bitter end.

Tonight The Evening Star launches a petition to help people make their views known – and it will be taken to Downing Street if necessary.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer has joined forces with the Star and is drawing together an action group to work to save the Felixstowe General.

He urged everyone to sign the petition, and also to write letters so he could build up a huge dossier.

Mr Gummer told a packed public meeting at the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell it was "utterly unacceptable" to even consider closing the hospital and such a move would set the town back 20 years.

He called for a massive public protest to let the health authorities know how strongly people felt.

But it was also "inappropriate and ridiculous" for the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to be asked by the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) to pay back its £18.4 million debts in one year and they should be given more time to avoid disruption to services.

"When the decisions are made about how to deal with this debt we have to make sure that the one decision that is not made is the closure of Felixstowe General," he said.

"We can understand why the SHA is concerned but I feel it should never have got to this situation in the first place.

"Anyone here today who is in business would never have gone so far down the route and lose so much money without noticing."

Mr Gummer said the PCT could not say – as it has been for the past 18 months – that Felixstowe General needed improving and its services extending and then suddenly take it away and say its services could still be provided.

"You cannot put these services in cubby holes and cupboards, doctors' surgeries and the Bartlet – that is going backward in a town that expected to go forward," he said.

"The PCT knows the General is not sufficient and needs to be rejuvenated. To close it would set Felixstowe back 20 years or more."

Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of the East Suffolk PCTs, said no decisions had yet been made and closing the hospital was "one of a long list of options".

She said the PCT needed to look at whether it could provide the same services but in a different and more efficient way – but not necessarily in the same building.

"What seems important to people is that services are maintained – it's not necessarily about buildings, it's about services," she said.

"The board will look at a paper on the issue in public on a number of options on how services can be maintained, and what options we have to develop Felixstowe if we can get the money and what happens if we cannot get the money."


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