Work to begin at Felixstowe hospital

WORK could start in the next month on a project which will be the first stage of turning a hospital into a centre of excellence for children.Thanks to Evening Star readers and supporters, the success of the Christmas Helping Our Children appeal means a special children-friendly waiting and treatment area can be created at Felixstowe General.

WORK could start in the next month on a project which will be the first stage of turning a hospital into a centre of excellence for children.

Thanks to Evening Star readers and supporters, the success of the Christmas Helping Our Children appeal means a special children-friendly waiting and treatment area can be created at Felixstowe General.

Primary care trust chiefs are also planning to add to this a number of other services for children at the unit in Constable Road.

With a new state-of-the-art school dental service department, speech therapy, health visitors' base, and other children's clinics, it could become "a centre of excellence for children", according to Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust.

The first stage will be the children's waiting and treatment area in the minor injuries unit to separate them from the adults.

Clinical director Anne Taylor said thanks to the marvellous support from the Evening Star appeal, work is expected to start on the project in the next few weeks, probably next month.

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She said the scheme was currently out to tender and once estimates from firms were received a choice of builder would be made and a contract let.

"This is an important area because children have at times been very frightened when coming into hospital for treatment - it can be a very frightening experience when you are young and unwell," she said.

"To be able to provide them with their own special area, tailored to their needs, will be a huge bonus."

The appeal was supported by generous donations from the PCT, the Port of Felixstowe's owner Hutchison Ports, businesses, as well as money raised by Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society's 977 special dividend number, readers and at the Evening Star Christmas carol service.

The hospital's League of Friends will pay for equipment for the new area.

Work will see redundant toilets removed to create a treatment room able to take a bed, sink and equipment, and provide a waiting area with murals, toys and furniture for children.

The MIU is used by more than 15,000 people every year - many of them from outside the immediate Felixstowe area.

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PROPOSALS for a major facelift for Felixstowe's cherished Bartlet Hospital to keep it open for decades to come appear to have been shelved.

Six months ago residents were told grants of up to £3 million could be gained from a NHS scheme to completely renovate and re-model the hospital.

It would ensure the Bartlet on Bath Hill would remain open for another 50 years and become a first-rate in-patient facility for the growing resort and its area.

But pressed by MP John Gummer over what was happening on the project, PCT staff appeared to backtrack - refusing to acknowledge the scheme at all.

Clinical director Anne Taylor said there were no plans for major refurbishment work at the Bartlet now or in the future. Maintenance work only would be done - as was planned each year.

Officials did give assurances that the Bartlet was part of their long-term plans.

Five years ago the hospital was faced with closure - and was only kept open after a hard-won campaign spearheaded by The Evening Star and its supporters.

The campaigners took their fight all the way to Whitehall where the Health Minister personally pledged that the hospital would be saved.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal-pct.nhs.uk

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

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