Campaigners propose their own hospital

Campaigners fighting the loss of local health services are putting forward plans for their own community hospital. It would see a community hospital created in Eye to replace the existing Hartismere Hospital, which Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) want to close.

Campaigners fighting the loss of local health services are putting forward plans for their own community hospital.

It would see a community hospital created in Eye to replace the existing Hartismere Hospital, which Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) want to close.

The Hartismere Hospital League of Friends wants to develop a range of facilities for more than 60,000 people living in the surrounding areas of Suffolk and south Norfolk.

Chairman of the group, Eric Havers, said the town was well placed provide health care, which could include clinics, diagnostic services, rehabilitation, maternity, day services, inpatient care and complementary therapies.

Other facilities could include self-help groups, mental health services, palliative care, as well as sheltered housing for the elderly and nursing home accommodation for the physically frail and those with dementia.

The proposals will be launched next week at a public meeting in nearby Hoxne and it is also planned to take a roadshow around villages to tell them about the idea.

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Mr Havers said they already had the support of local doctors, councils and Central Suffolk MP Sir Michael Lord, who will speak at Thursday's launch meeting.

The group has been working away while secretary of state for health, Patricia Hewitt, decides whether to accept the Suffolk East PCTs' decision to close Hartismere Hospital, sell off most of the land and move towards providing more care in the community.

“We have been using this time to do some fact finding and research. We have kept the PCTs informed of what we are doing,” said Mr Havers.

“We have been talking to private providers about funding, but that's one of the things that is in the air, because there are options.

“We as local people could become stakeholders. Our next step has got to be to put a business case forward.”

Mr Havers said the cost of such a facility would depend on what services it provided, adding: “I am quite excited. It's happened throughout the country and we believe it could happen here.

“The main difference to the PCTs' plans is keeping things under one roof, but it does include some of their proposals, such as continuing some of the clinics.

“It is still in the early stages, but we are hopeful of the outcome.”

Spokesman for Suffolk East PCTs, Jeremy Peters, said they had been made aware of the proposals.

“We have not been formally approached... the PCTs, who have responsibility for commissioning health services in east Suffolk, would be happy to consider any formal business proposal provided they meet evidenced health care needs.”

The proposals will be launched at St Edmunds Hall, Hoxne, on Thursday at 8pm.