Felixstowe: Anger over move to convert Bartlet Hospital into luxury flats
12:00 21 April 2011
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to keep Felixstowe’s former Bartlet Hospital for healthcare have today vowed to oppose proposals to use the building and its site for new homes.
The plan is to convert the building into 21 spacious luxury apartments, many with panoramic sea views, with the old nurses’ home annexe extended and converted into four flats and three town houses, with three further town houses in the grounds.
NHS Suffolk is aiming to gain planning permission for the project – and then sell the site later this year with consent.
Cash from the sale would then be reinvested into local healthcare.
However, Mark Marshall, head of corporate development and infrastructure for the primary care trust, could not guarantee that the money would be spent in Felixstowe.
"The problem is that the NHS is not in this instance providing the care that we want."
Faced by questions from angry campaigners, he said the Bartlet was no longer a building fit for the provision of 21st century healthcare and it would take an awful lot of money to refurbish it.
Healthcare had also changed, he added. The new flexible system of care was much more viable than keeping a hospital ward open all year regardless of how many patients it had – providing a balance of in-patient and intermediate care, and care for those returning home to convalesce.
Campaigner Ian Heeley said: “The problem is that the NHS is not in this instance providing the care that we want – there are more and more elderly people and we want to see the building providing the convalescent care it was designed for.”
Barry Farr, chairman of the Bartlet Bequest Action Group, which has alternative plans to use the old hospital as health village for a variety of care, said: “We will continue working on our plans. I think in the current economic climate there is more to encourage us than less, and while it will take a lot of hard work, we could be successful in the future.”
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said she was disappointed with the lack of commitment to affordable housing.
“I will continue to champion the cause of healthcare in Felix-stowe and will be seeking GPs’ opinions about use of the site to discuss prospects of delaying the sale while NHS reforms are being worked through so they can have a real say on the future of the site,” she said.
■ Should the Bartlet be used for convalescent care? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or email email@example.com.