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Extra letters, February 22 - Part 1

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds (7440562)
West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds (7440562)


The pressures on nurses, doctors and senior management at West Suffolk Hospital are rushing it towards unmanageability, and eventual chaos and tragedies.

The only answer is more Government money now for staff and for other resources, and the restoration of student nurse bursaries, which were so dangerously stopped.

Chief executive Steve Dunn may at times feel like tearing his hair out in frustration. However rigorous and inventive management preparation and planning, crisis in one spot after another has been unavoidable. He told the Trust Board on January 25 that the hospital will not do better this financial year than achieve a net deficit of £10.1m. Even that figure, it seems, could worsen. The hospital’s overall borrowing from the Department of Health, stated Craig Black, resources director, in his separate report, stood at December’s end at over £85 million. The implications of that I do not understand, but it is clear that the financing arrangements for hospitals bear a resemblance to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Alongside financial deterioration are some troubling treatment figures. In December, the percentage of patients referred urgently for suspected cancer – who should be dealt with within 62 days – was under 80 per cent. The percentage of patients referred urgently with breast symptoms – target two weeks – and who were seen within that time was under 50per cent. As it stands, nursing staff for many wards are required to work 12-and-a-half-hour shifts (with two half-hour breaks), and are required to be highly mobile. Thus a nurse at WSH could be shifted to a ward under WSH management at Newmarket Hospital. It can happen, I am told, that the nursing presence on a ward can approach so close to inadequacy, that a nurse can feel unable to take a half-hour break during the long shift.

The availability of sufficient security back-up – at moments when aggression is feared – is another concern.

On Friday, January 11, Steve Dunn reported to the Board, demand was so high that it was decided to send phone texts to nurses in the hope of securing more staffing over the weekend. This action – the first of this kind, it seemed – solved the problem, but it also symbolised the level of the crisis, which is the product of sustained reduced funding over the past nine years.

Is it a wonder that nursing staff are dissatisfied with their pay, and that they are not satisfied either, however committed to their work, that they can do their best in current conditions?

John Ellison


West Suffolk Trades Council, Bury St Edmunds


I felt I must write in support of the excellent and obviously heartfelt letter from the Thurston Neighbourhood Plan Team (TNPT) in last week’s Bury Free Press.

This over-worked and severely under-resourced group have done sterling work and have, against the odds and vagaries of the Mid Suffolk District Council, produced an absolutely excellent Neighbourhood Plan. In a crazy, more or less un-regulated period in 2017, a rash of planning applications were submitted, and approved, which saddled our village with close to 1,000 extra homes – an increase of around 76 per cent and a projected population increase to 6,000, up from 3,232 in 2011 – do the math, as they say!

Nobody is saying we don’t need new homes, but it’s the sheer scale of this increase which is causing great concern – especially since there’s little or no talk of suitable infrastructure developments.

The Persimmon Homes business plan for their 250 homes, for example, is apparently designed to yield them the maximum amount of profit, with high-density housing for the lower end of the market, rather than fit in with our Neighbourhood Plan, which contains 82 pages of brilliantly well-researched and documented facts about our village.

In another article in the same issue of the BFP, Mid Suffolk’s planners were trying to allay fears of over-development along the A14 – but they’re obviously not supporting TNPT, who, it seems, are fighting an uphill battle. It’s surely time for the planners to redress the balance of power so that communities such as Thurston are given credit for their expert knowledge of local needs against developers who only see profit as their goal.

John Bottle



The Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds extends a huge thank-you to all in Bury who contributed to the Rotary Santa Sleigh street and supermarket collections in December.

With your kind generosity we raised a staggering £4,008.34p, every penny of which will go to local charities, helping people in Bury.

We were really heartened that you took the time to stop and donate, to have a chat and to show the children and family “Santa’s Sleigh” as it travelled the town. We extend our thanks to the management and staff of Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s for their partnership and support.

Should you be interested in joining the Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds, please contact Cris Barlow on 07860 315944, or go to www.rotaryclubofburystedmunds.

Lucy Perkins

Vice President