Terrorism stops hospital protest

TERRORISM attacks in London have today put paid to hopes of sending coachloads of save our hospital campaigners to march on Westminster.Supporters of Felixstowe's General and Bartlet hospitals had been hoping to repeat their huge protest march through the resort in Whitehall – taking their campaign into the heart of the corridors of power.

TERRORISM attacks in London have today put paid to hopes of sending coachloads of save our hospital campaigners to march on Westminster.

Supporters of Felixstowe's General and Bartlet hospitals had been hoping to repeat their huge protest march through the resort in Whitehall – taking their campaign into the heart of the corridors of power.

But plans have been dashed because large-scale demonstrations are not being encouraged with security forces on alert over possible further terrorist attacks.

Instead, campaigners in east Suffolk are getting together for a show of force for a top-level meeting with government – with just one aim.


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Supporters of all the community hospitals under threat – the General and Bartlet, and those fighting for Aldeburgh and Hartismere – want to try to persuade ministers to keep the precious units open.

Consultation is now under way on proposals, which Primary Care Trusts hope will slash millions off their debts.

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Felixstowe action group member Ian Heeley said: "We are contacting the other groups which have been set up to fight for hospitals in east Suffolk and will send a four-man delegation with our MP John Gummer to meet health minister Patricia Hewitt.

"We want to put our case personally to the government and hear what they have got to say and what reasons they give for cutting services in Felixstowe and east Suffolk.

"We want to explain to them how we feel – and tell them first-hand the strength of feeling there is about these proposals."

Mr Heeley said the group had been told it could not march in Westminster at present because of the security worries.

He said: "It is a shame but it makes sense and is probably the safest course of action at this time, but it will not stop us finding other ways to make our views known."

One proposal is the closure of the Bartlet convalescent and rehabilitation unit, which would be sold for £3.44 million and turned into luxury apartments.

Less beds would be needed because people would be discharged from hospital earlier or prevented from needing hospital by being cared for in their homes by teams of travelling carers.

But the action group says both units must be kept and are vital for the different types of care they provide.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer said: "We do not want the closure of the Bartlet and do not want the reduction of services and beds at Aldeburgh. Why can we have any confidence in promises made by anybody in this consultation when every promise up until now has been broken?"

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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