A group of campaigners took to the streets of Bungay in Suffolk over the weekend to protest against the closure of All Hallows Healthcare Trust.
Demonstrators embarked on a slow walk from All Hallows in Ditchingham to Buttercross on Saturday, three weeks after the provider announced it was facing closure due to financial difficulties.
Shortly after the announcement, a campaign group called Save All Hallows was formed and has since organised peaceful protests, hand holds and public meetings, reports Beccles & Bungay Journal, a local news service.
All Hallows said last month that it is with “enormous sadness” that all services, including a hospital, nursing home and domiciliary service, are likely to close as it has now become “impossible” to balance income and costs on an ongoing basis.
Sue Cook, executive director of Peoples Services at Suffolk County Council said at the time that all services will be transferred to another care provider.
“We would like to reassure those affected by this news that we are currently exploring a range of options to ensure that care and support continues without disruption,” she said.
But All Hollows Chairman John Chapman said that it was “frankly unkind” to suggest that all services will continue at the present location but under different management, as this may give people “false hopes”.
“To reassure the public that in reality the entirety of All Hallows’ care services are safe and will continue under different providers does not presently reflect the true situation,” he said.
“We have certainly had expressions of interest in some parts of our work, but no actual offers to take over. For example, our slow stream neuro-rehab facility helps to meet an acute shortage of such specialist care locally. No one has offered to take this on and the reality is that the NHS and Social Care providers are now faced with the unenviable task of relocating many of those we care for in a healthcare system already reeling from massive cuts and closures. It is more than sad, it is tragic.”
Chapman explained that it was evident “a long while ago” that without adequate income from its commissioners, All Hollows would run out of reserves.
The Board approached Suffolk County Council last summer to share their concerns in the hope of formulating a plan to avoid closure, but it wasn’t until February 2019 that they were told that there would be no more money.
“Some cost saving proposals were made which on the most optimistic basis would not have addressed our continuing monthly losses remotely soon enough to avoid closure. By that stage our situation had become critical. If one looks at the statistics for closure of care homes and domiciliary care providers we are far from being alone,” Chapman continued.
Since the announcement, 10 providers have expressed interest in All Hallows and on Friday, April 12, its future was discussed at a meeting chaired by Bungay Town Reeve and president of the Friends of All Hallows, Silivia Knights.
“There’s only so much we can say about the meeting, but we were briefed on the criteria that prospective buyers will have to go by,” campaigner Jaime Larter told Beccles & Bungay Journal. “All the bids are in and a decision will be made at some point next week.
“I’m still pushing the campaign because that is why things have been brought forward. Everyone would still be in the dark about what’s going on if it weren’t for us.”