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Ipswich and Colchester hospitals merger plan to be unveiled in July

PUBLISHED: 14:59 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:59 22 December 2017

Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals with Nick Hulme. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals with Nick Hulme. Picture: ARCHANT

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Details for a merger between Ipswich and Colchester hospitals are set to be revealed in the next six months as a full business case is on track for July.

Earlier this week a survey was launched asking members of the public for their thoughts on the two options for the combined trust’s new name: Colchester and Ipswich NHS Foundation Trust or East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

Chief executive Nick Hulme stressed that the name of the umbrella trust would not change the identity of each hospital, which would remain by their current names, and said that merger plans had been progressing well.

“We are starting to pull together the structural strategy and look at the ways we want to work together. We are taking a step back and seeing what we do well at Colchester and Ipswich,” he said.

“We are still on track to get the full business case in April time and it will be presented at the beginning of July.”

As part of the planning stages, staff across all departments will be consulted, while assessments of each hospital’s strengths and limitations is also being looked at to see how the merger can improve services for both patients and the hospitals.

Bosses are also looking at where areas can be streamlined, or in some cases where primary or community care may be more appropriate.

It has not yet been decided if each hospital will be a hub for certain types of services that the other won’t, but Mr Hulme said that patient care would come first.

“If you are asking patients to travel a little further then there has to be a very clear benefit in terms of quicker access to care rather than just for our own convenience,” he added.

It is hoped the merger will reduce the number of patients having to go outside of the county for certain conditions.

Merger plans are also allowing the opportunity for bosses to see where joint services can save money which can be utilised elsewhere in the hospital budget.

Under the plans, Ipswich would become part of a foundation trust, which means that while it is still part of the NHS and run to the same standards it is free from central government control.

Staff and patients generally have a larger say in the running of a foundation trust. Colchester Hospital became a foundation trust in 2008.

Merger survey

Hospital chief executive Nick Hulme has stressed that the name of the merged NHS trust for Colchester and Ipswich hospitals will not impact on their identities.

A survey launched online is asking for patients and staff to vote for their favourite of the two names for the merged trust, but the two hospitals will still go by the names of Colchester hospital and Ipswich Hospital.

Mr Hulme said feedback had been largely positive, but eased fears that the establishments would lose their identities.

“There are a few people worried about the identities of the hospitals, which is why we are saying it won’t be lost,” he said.

“We have guidelines to follow nationally [for the trust name] so we are gathering people’s views.

“I think the important thing is the names of the hospitals won’t change, so it will be Ipswich Hospital as part of the larger trust.”

The survey closes in January.

To take part visit the online survey page here.

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