Councillor concerned Orwell Bridge closures will affect travel between merged hospitals

Councillor Inga Lockington. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Councillor Inga Lockington. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Fears have been raised over how Orwell Bridge closures will impact travel between Ipswich and Colchester hospitals following their merger.

The two trusts are set to form one organisation this summer and Ipswich councillor Inga Lockington has highlighted her concerns about the changes.

A post on the Ipswich Liberal Democrats website reads: “Inga has asked what will happen if expert staff are shared between the hospitals and the Orwell Bridge is closed as then it is not easy to get from hospital to hospital as Ipswich will be difficult to get through.”

The Orwell Bridge has been shut three times this year already for safety reasons due to high winds.

The closure has a huge impact on traffic in the area, bringing the surrounding roads to a standstill.

Mrs Lockington is also worried about a lack of public consultation on the merger.

At the start of this week, details were announced about a series of events that will be held in Suffolk and Essex between February 13-22 for residents to learn more about the proposals and share their views.

The blog adds: “Inga is concerned that there has not been a lot of open public engagement up until now and it is important that anyone with an interest in our local NHS have a say.

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“Mergers of hospitals are happening in different parts of the country but we need to understand what that will mean for us.

“Inga has expressed concerns about the short notice for the public events and that several are in the half term when some families might be away.”

Jan Ingle, head of communications at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said: “These engagement opportunities are part of a much bigger programme which we started about a year ago and there will be many more opportunities for people to speak to us and engage right up until the merger in the summer.

“We really welcome any invitations from local groups who might like to invite us to talk to them about this. We really want to reach all our communities.”

Mrs Ingle said there were no immediate plans to change services at either trust, and stressed A&E, maternity care and 24/7 unplanned admissions would remain at both sites.

“We would only ever make changes if it would be bringing benefits to the patients,” she added.

“Both trusts as they stand are too small on their own and the merger gives us the opportunity to save and grow our services for local people and that could offer them the opportunity to choose to travel to Ipswich and Colchester rather than London or Cambridge for example for more complex treatments.”