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Ipswich Hospital is being downgraded – why aren’t Suffolk MPs fighting harder to stop it?

PUBLISHED: 16:35 23 February 2020

Ipswich Hospital  Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Hospital Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere has criticised MPs for not doing more to stop planned orthopaedic surgery moving from Ipswich to Colchester Hospital. He outlines the concerns in his latest column.

The announcement that planned orthopaedic surgery is to be moved from Ipswich to Colchester is bad news for Suffolk.

The NHS is struggling across the country from 10 years of under-investment but things have been made worse in Suffolk by the Government-forced merger of Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals.

Prior to the merger Ipswich was a well performing hospital and Colchester close to a basket case. As a result of all the focus on Colchester, its performance is improving while Ipswich's is getting worse.

As if that wasn't bad enough, now Colchester is starting to take services away from Ipswich.

This is bad news for patients who will have much further to travel and for their loved-ones who wish to visit them.

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There is no doubt that this is represents a downgrade of Ipswich Hospital and will probably not end here. Most of the reasons given for choosing Colchester over Ipswich - population, travel, space on site - will be exactly the same for any future movement of services.

The NHS has already made up its mind. It will take a huge effort to get it to change its plans, so our MPs need to step up to the plate.

Tom Hunt has not had a great start as Ipswich's MP. He promised to "fight like a lion" for the town but when it comes to standing up to Conservative County Councillors cancelling the Northern Bypass or fighting to keep services at Ipswich Hospital he is squeaking like a mouse.

It is not enough to be "disappointed" or to "have concerns" about services being moved to Colchester. Surely, it's not too much for us to expect him to stand up for Ipswich and work with Conservative MPs in the rest of Suffolk to stop this proposal?

Matt Hancock is the Secretary of State for Health - the man in charge of the NHS. Jo Churchill is a Health Minister. Therese Coffey is a Cabinet Minister. Dan Poulter used to be a Health Minister and James Cartlidge used to be Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Health Secretary.

If, between them, they are not able to stop Ipswich Hospital being downgraded in this way then what on earth is the point of any of them?

- David Ellesmere is the leader of Ipswich Borough Council.

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