U-turn gives hope for health campaigners

HEALTH campaigners said they are filled with fresh hope for the future of Suffolk's under-threat hospitals today, after Patricia Hewitt announced a dramatic U-turn on plans to shake-up the structure of the county's NHS.

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HEALTH campaigners said they are filled with fresh hope for the future of Suffolk's under-threat hospitals today, after Patricia Hewitt announced a dramatic U-turn on plans to shake-up the structure of the county's NHS.

People power won out yesterday when the health secretary announced there would be a separate primary care trust for Great Yarmouth and Waveney, and one for the rest of Suffolk.

Her decision went against recommendations made by the Cambridge-based Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA), and showed that she is willing to listen to public opinion.


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Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Our Felixstowe Hospital Action Group, said: “It's pleasing to hear that she has obviously taken the public's feelings in to consideration.

“Let's hope this bodes well for us in the future and that she will listen to public opinion over hospital closures in Suffolk.”

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The restructuring of PCTs is part of massive government reforms of the health service.

Staff and patients in the Waveney and Great Yarmouth area fought long and hard to retain their independence but after a series of consultation meetings the SHA opted for the option of one PCT for the county and it was thought that the health secretary would agree.

Jenny Brabazon, a member of the Suffolk Coastal PCT's patient and public involvement forum, said: “I am pleasantly surprised by the decision.

“It's really the first sign that they've listened to public opinion and protest.”

Suffolk County Council, which had backed the idea of one PCT for the whole of Suffolk, said they are committed to working closely with the health service, regardless of how it is organised.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of the council, said: “When the council debated the future of health in Suffolk I gave a commitment to make any new structure work - I stand by that commitment."

The decision to merge PCTs in to larger organisations has been seen by many as a return to the old Suffolk Health Authority.

It will mean a number of high profile management job losses and is expected to save around £10m - £3m of which will be given to Suffolk.

New chief executives and boards for the new organisations are expected to be announced within the next month.

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