First look at new hospital centre

AN accident and emergency department twice the size of the current one and higher numbers of private patient beds will be among the new features at Ipswich Hospital's new multi-million pound treatment care centreThe details can be revealed today after The Evening Star was allowed behind the scenes of the much-talked about £26million Garrett Anderson Centre.

AN accident and emergency department twice the size of the current one and higher numbers of private patient beds will be among the new features at Ipswich Hospital's new multi-million pound treatment care centre

The details can be revealed today after The Evening Star was allowed behind the scenes of the much-talked about £26million Garrett Anderson Centre.

We were the first media allowed inside the building, the hospital's biggest development project for more than 30 years.

Steve Harrup, the hospital's director of estates and facilities and the project director, said: “The building is seen from the outside by thousands of people every day.

“People aren't so sure what's going on inside.

“The ground floor will be accident and emergency, twice the size of the existing department.

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“There will be a critical care unit on the first floor, with 22 bays eventually.

“There will be four day surgery theatres on the top floor and the third floor is a 40-bed ward, for patients who come through the theatres.”

The building will be more spacious compared to the rest of the hospital, in line with modern standards.

Fifty per cent of the beds will be in single, private bays with ensuite facilities and the remaining 50 will be in ward bays of no more than four beds.

Mr Harrup said: “The whole project is designed to give the community we serve services fit for the 21st century, and give the appropriate standard of accommodation.

“People have higher expectations of hospitals now, rightly so, and this building will meet that.

“It's an 18 month project and we are now a year in.

“It's due to be completed at Christmas and will open in January 2008. Everything at this stage is on schedule.”

The building will have a main public entrance facing Woodbridge Road and a separate entrance for ambulances and their patients on the opposite side facing Foxhall Road. It is designed to be safer as ambulances currently rush in to an area used by pedestrians and other vehicles.

Mr Harrup said it is still not known how the existing A&E and critical care units will be used once the departments are moved to the new centre.

He said: “We are yet to determine what will go into the existing areas but we will make use of them.

“It is linked to the reconfiguration of the site, where we are taking older parts of the hospital and closing them down, decanting services from the north of the site into the south.”

The centre, being built by construction firm Kier, will be kitted out with new furniture and the hospital will be investing in new equipment. One of the first new pieces of equipment to be used will be a £22,000 cardiac ultrasound machine bought after fundraising by Star readers in the Lifesaver appeal.

The hospital is in the process of running staff tours of the building.

Do you think the Garrett Anderson Centre will improve services at the hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk .

The Garrett Anderson Centre is named after Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who was brought up in Suffolk and was the first English woman to qualify as a doctor.