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Campaigners pledge to fight again to save 'crucial' beds at Hartismere Hospital

Campaigners who fought to keep a hospital open now face losing what few community care beds that remain and a vital Parkinson’s clinic.

Hartismere Hospital in Castleton Way closed to in-patients in 2006.

It had more than 120 beds at the time.

Hartismere Hospital. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Hartismere Hospital. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Following years of protests, meetings, marches and negotiations by the Hartismere Hospital League of Friends, the hospital eventually reopened in 2012 and 10 community care beds were commissioned by the NHS.

Half of the beds were scrapped a few months ago and health bosses are now looking to cut the remaining five.

League of Friends secretary Pauline Diamond, said: “People are going to be very shocked. So many campaigned very hard to keep our beds in this area and we will have to fight again to keep them.”

Hartismere League of Friends secretary Pauline Diamond, centre, says the group will fight to save the beds and the outreach clinic.
Hartismere League of Friends secretary Pauline Diamond, centre, says the group will fight to save the beds and the outreach clinic.

The beds at Hartismere Place Care Home currently provide rehabilitation for people who have been discharged from Ipswich or West Suffolk hospitals, but who are still unable to care for themselves more independently at home.

“Five beds went a few months ago because Care UK served notice on them, which we didn’t know. Now they want to get rid of the other five,” said Mrs Diamond, a former nurse at Hartismere Hospital.

“We want the whole 10 beds back. These are NHS beds in north Suffolk; there is no provision anywhere near this area. They are absolutely crucial.”

The beds help to improve patient flow at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals and prevent bed blocking by patients who are medically fit to be discharged but who need additional rehabilitation before they are fit enough to return home.

“I think if we are complacent, we will lose those beds, but if we fight for them, we will keep them,” said Mrs Diamond, who joined the League of Friends five years ago.

“We will do whatever it takes to try to keep them. That’s part of our remit.”

Since the potential loss of the beds was announced, the group has held discussions with Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter, who has raised these concerns with the district’s clinical commissioning group (CCG).

The Hartismere Hospital League of Friends is also planning to write to the local community to raise awareness.

“We have to make them aware of what’s actually happening and what a great loss we are facing if we lose these beds,” said Mrs Diamond, a mother-of-three.

“I hope people realise what an asset we have here. I think sometimes you don’t realise unless you have a need for NHS services. It’s up to us to keep that in people’s minds.”

The hospital is also facing the loss of its Parkinson’s outreach clinic since the retirement of Dr Tim Lockington.

“The CCG employed a locum doctor who, for some reason, was unable to come out to this area, but they were hoping that, when they get somebody permanently, they can continue the clinic,” said Mrs Diamond, 66.

“Again, we need to petition and rally and not let that fade from our memory and remember that this is something that we need to re-establish here at Hartismere for its very vulnerable patients with a quite complex disease.”

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