Delay for new community scheme

MORE community beds to ease the pressure on Ipswich Hospital could be severely delayed because the cost was underestimated by millions of pounds.It was hoped the Ravenswood intermediary care unit would be up and running by the end of next year but the scheme may now have to go back to square one.

MORE community beds to ease the pressure on Ipswich Hospital could be severely delayed because the cost was underestimated by millions of pounds.

It was hoped the Ravenswood intermediary care unit would be up and running by the end of next year but the scheme may now have to go back to the drawing board.

Originally the cost of the unit was estimated at around £1.9million but that figure was later revised to a huge £4million.

The building on the former Ipswich airfield is planned to consist of three four- bedroomed flats, 20 en-suite bedrooms, day care, a physiotherapy gym, occupational therapists and support services.


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They will be aimed at people who are not ill enough to be in hospital but are unable to care for themselves at home.

Now the plans have to be reconsidered and it could be the end of 2005 before the new beds could be available.

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This could have a knock-on effect at Ipswich Hospital where the 18 community care beds on the fifth floor are soon to be turned over to a specialist gynaecological cancer care unit.

The beds in the unit have to be empty by 2004 in time for the cancer unit to take over.

Several options are now available to the Ipswich Primary Care Trust (PCT), who have commissioned the project.

One of those options was to scrap the plans completely but at a meeting of the Trust board, members were strongly advised against such a move.

Sarah Woolford, director of finance for the PCT said: "The impact of that would be that we would lose the 18 beds in the cancer unit.

"This is an option that we cannot consider because it would severely hamper our ability to develop."

The other two options is to get more money for the scheme from the Strategic Health Authority if it is available, or to seek private sector funding such as going into partnership with a housing association. However this would mean the building may not be completed until 2005.

Ipswich PCT are now considering the options and should decide early next year.

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