Behind the scenes at new hospital centre

STAFF and patients are eagerly awaiting the opening of Ipswich Hospital's £26million Garrett Anderson treatment centre. In the third of a four-part look at the project, health reporter HAZEL BYFORD visited the new day surgery centre on the third floor.

Hazel Byford

STAFF and patients are eagerly awaiting the opening of Ipswich Hospital's £26million Garrett Anderson treatment centre. In the third of a four-part look at the project, health reporter HAZEL BYFORD visited the new day surgery centre on the third floor.

IN an NHS dominated by targets and waiting times, Ipswich Hospital's day surgery unit is hitting back.

When the multi-million pound Garrett Anderson centre opens its doors the department is ready and waiting to impress.

Where as it currently operates on 20 to 35 patients a day, it is upping its game to 40 to 50 and drastically improving turnaround of patients.

Currently known as Foxhall Day Surgery Unit, the department is moving to the top floor of the new landmark building and renaming itself the Raedwald Unit, after the first King of East Anglia.

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Lorraine Boorman, clinical lead for the day surgery unit, said: “I've worked here since 1991 and we have been planning a new day surgery unit since then, so you can imagine how excited I am.

“Foxhall was built in the late 70s and was innovative at the time but we've totally outgrown it now.”

The unit now has 19 beds and sees adults and children treated on the same ward.

One of the selling points of the Garrett Anderson is its dedicated paediatric area.

A corner of the new unit is self-contained for youngsters (under 16s), with a play area, seven-bed ward area and recovery area, staffed by more children's nurses. There will also be a children's operating theatre.

The play area, designed to settle children before and after their operations, has been decorated in partnership with the National Trust with a King Raedwald theme.

The trust has donated artwork and the Sutton Hoo site, where Raedwald is believed to have been buried, has donated educational activities.

Adults will be admitted to an 18-bed ward, all single cubicles to improve privacy and dignity for patients. There will be four theatres, compared to the current two, and as well as carrying out more operations everyday, the unit is also hoping to increase what procedures it does.

It currently does operations ranging from hernia repair and wisdom teeth removal to knee and shoulder key-hole surgery and epidurals.

It is getting extra staff from the hospital's main theatre area to cope with the added workload and, along with the new elective surgery ward in the Garrett Anderson centre, is aiming to become a centre of excellence.

The extra staff are the result of day surgery activity spread across the hospital, like gynaecology and paediatrics, relocating to the new centre. The remaining facilities are shrinking down.

Despite all the extra space and beds, not all will be used immediately.

The centre has been built to grow into, set to last at least 30 years, so the full capacity will only be used in time.

There are however plenty of immediate signs of growth, including a new minimal invasive surgery theatre. There has never been a specific theatre for key-hole procedures, and the new one has special fibre optic scopes, a decontamination area and a camera system.

The new department also boasts a six-bed post anaesthetic recovery area (compared to the current four beds) and a recovery lounge for people having minor operations where they do not get changed into gowns nor have anaesthetic.

The Garrett Anderson Centre - named after Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917), the first female GP and a former mayor of Aldeburgh - will house £3.1m of equipment over the four floors.

The additions to day surgery include day surgery trolleys instead of normal beds which help with infection control.

Alison Whittaker is a paediatric team leader at the unit and is a descendant of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Mrs Whittaker's great, great, great granddad was Elizabeth's cousin.

While day surgery is on the top floor, accident and emergency is on the ground floor, critical care is on the first floor and elective surgery is on the second floor.

All benefit from more space and light.

Mrs Boorman said: “There are a lot of glass windows bringing in the light. Patients will notice an enormous difference to the feel of the place, and in the facilities.

“Patient groups have been involved in the design. For example they told us they wanted somewhere to be admitted and go back to, somewhere to put their belongings, rather than go round on a race track, so we've done that.

“The centre is also so much bigger. At the moment it's very cramped and there's nowhere for staff to study or do paperwork. The new building has research room and a proper staff rest room.”

N What do you think of the old/new day surgery departments at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

THE play area at the new day surgery unit has already been equipped with toys thanks to Christmas spirit from the community.

More than £300 of toys for children of all ages were donated to the centre as part of a season of spreading Christmas magic from the Evening Star.

To celebrate the unit getting a separate paediatric area, the Lions Clubs of Ipswich, Woodbridge and Felixstowe donated cash for toys including musical instruments, puzzles, books and soft toys.

It was part of a Christmas project at Ipswich Hospital which saw accident and emergency and Saxmundham wards decorated with trimmings, and a 20-foot tree being put up in the car park.

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