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Cutting your cloth shrewdly to combat a financial crisis

Cutting your cloth shrewdly to combat a financial crisis

From Dr John Havard, Saxmundham, Suffolk

The financial crisis in the NHS is most bitterly felt in the rural and typically Conservative areas of England.

The Government reasonably argues that it needs to concentrate resources on the areas of maximum health inequality since economies in rural areas will not significantly sacrifice the health of the nation.

Those of us who live and work in these areas of the UK now have to cut our cloth more imaginatively.

In Suffolk we have two examples that could satisfy the needs of both the Government and the people.

The first is the Aldeburgh Cottage Hospital, which could be owned and managed by the community, and expanded rather than cut.

The second is the Saxmundham Health and Social Care one-stop shop, which could be the jewel in the crown of the NHS plan.

This town is on the A12 halfway between two general hospitals and so is a sensible location for the expansion of services for the wider community.

Despite unanimous approval from the PCT and even a £267,000 Government grant, it is floundering because of the extra NHS rental commitment.

No surprises there, but the gaping flaw is that the project is still refused if, through external grant, it costs the PCT no extra rent. The reason given is that public expectation might be raised and new demand could be 'created'.

Dismissing such opportunity seems as mindless as not allowing your wartime pilots into the air. And the local tailors might as well cut off their fingers with the cloth!

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