Pensioners to join beds campaign

MARK NICHOLLS Thousands of pensioners across the region have backed a campaign to save hospital beds from closure in Norfolk.

MARK NICHOLLS

Thousands of pensioners across the region have backed a campaign to save hospital beds from closure in Norfolk.

Members of the Eastern Region (North) Pensioners' Association, which represents around 10,000 people, met yesterday and agreed unanimously to support the EDP campaign to help save beds at nine community hospitals.

Up to 120 of the 227 beds are under threat as Norfolk Primary Care Trust considers moving more care into patients' homes and closing some of the existing units as it strives to cut a £50m debt.

Last night Edith Pocock, secretary of the eastern region group for pensioners, said: "At the meeting it was a unanimous decision that we should join the campaign.

"We are fed up with the NHS problems and most of those things affect the elderly. Most of us have been in hospital recently and there has not been the care that there should have been, there are not the beds available.

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"The proposed closure of these beds across the region is absolutely ridiculous."

She said a major concern among pensioners was that if they had a spouse who was in an intermediate care bed some way away from where they lived, they would have difficulty in visiting.

Hospitals under threat of closure, or having their bed numbers slashed, are: Benjamin Court, Cromer; North Walsham Hospital; St Michael's Hospital, Aylsham; Cranmer House, Fakenham; Swaffham Hospital; Dereham Hospital; Norwich Community Hospital (formerly the West Norwich Hospital); Ogden Court, Wymondham; and Kelling Hospital, at Holt.

"We want as many beds as possible kept where they currently are," said Mrs Pocock.

The PCT is planning to put its plans out to public consultation early next year and make a decision in April. Throughout November, it is planning to hold a series of pre-consultation meetings to outline more details of its plans. Dates and venues of these meetings are scheduled to be announced this week.