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Date set for Ipswich and Colchester hospitals merger decision

PUBLISHED: 19:01 13 March 2018 | UPDATED: 19:01 13 March 2018

Nick Hulme is the chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals. Picture: ARCHANT

Nick Hulme is the chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

The proposed merger between Ipswich and Colchester hospitals has drawn a step closer, with a date set for the final decision.

Boards members from the two NHS trusts will consider the final business case for creating a joint organisation on Thursday, March 29, it has been revealed.

The public are invited to attend the “extraordinary meeting”, which will be held at Ipswich Corn Exchange from 2.30pm.

There will be an allotted time for attendees in the audience to ask questions.

Bosses are expected to give their backing to the merger.

The full business case would then need approval from NHS Improvement, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care before the move could go ahead.

If all goes to plan, the hospitals will start working as one this summer.

The favoured name of the merged organisation is East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, however both hospitals will retain their current identities.

Stormy scenes erupted when the boards met in public at Langham Community Centre to agree the outline business case in August last year.

Joint chief executive Nick Hulme has said the two hospitals, which are 21 miles apart, were not sustainable on their own.

If they stay as separate trusts, more patients could end up having to travel to bigger centres in London, Cambridge and Norwich for specialist care.

Under the new system, clinical services would fully integrate, with only emergency departments, urgent medical care and maternity guaranteed to remain at both sites.

Bosses have stayed reasonably tight-lipped about possible changes ahead, but have suggested the hospitals might fuse some cardiology, trauma and orthopaedic services.

The move will be the most significant health care transformation in Suffolk and north Essex in decades, and is predicted to save the two hospitals £40 million in running costs over five years.

A series of public engagement events have been held this year for people to find out more about the proposals and share their views.

At one meeting in Felixstowe, director of integration Dr Shane Gordon revealed patients would get to choose to attend either Ipswich and Colchester hospital after the merger in order to get faster care.

As Colchester is a foundation trust it would technically have to acquire Ipswich, but a new constitution would be written to represent the whole area.

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