Fears for shape of county healthcare

RENEWED fears have been voiced over the future shape of healthcare in Suffolk after it emerged that one of the county's busiest hospitals is to be replaced.

RENEWED fears have been voiced over the future shape of healthcare in Suffolk after it emerged that one of the county's busiest hospitals is to be replaced.

Bosses at the 480-bed West Suffolk Hospital, which serves 275,000 people, revealed they were looking to build a brand new “healthcare campus” in Bury St Edmunds.

The surprise announcement comes amid fears for the future of the Bury hospital's children's ward after the East of England Strategic Health Authority backed proposals questioning whether all inpatient paediatric services were needed.

It also comes in the wake of controversial decisions to shift head and neck cancer services out of Ipswich Hospital to Norfolk and to close the Walnuttree and St Leonards hospitals in Sudbury.


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Managers at West Suffolk Hospital claim a new hospital is needed because the current Hardwick Lane site has become too old and cramped to continue delivering modern health services. They claim the idea is at such an early stage they cannot say which services would be provided at the new site, once it is chosen.

But Richard Spring, West Suffolk MP, said he was concerned for the future of healthcare provision and questioned whether the end result might be a smaller hospital offering fewer services.

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He said: “It would be lovely to have a new hospital but are they going to cut down on what they are providing? Is this a wheeze to cut services, I just don't know.”

Chris Bown, chief executive at West Suffolk, said: “The Hardwick Lane site has changed dramatically since West Suffolk Hospital was first opened in 1973. Advances in healthcare and a rapidly growing population have resulted in a continuous programme of expansion. Longer term plans, which look at provision of healthcare up to 20 years ahead, highlight concern that poor access to the current site and age of the buildings may restrict the ability of the trust to deliver its vision of a modern 'healthcare campus'.”

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