Health bosses happy about docs' letter

HEALTH bosses in the east have today welcomed a critical letter from Ipswich Hospital consultants.

HEALTH bosses in the east have today welcomed a critical letter from Ipswich Hospital consultants.

Although the letter signed by more than 100 top doctors at the hospital, and sent to The Evening Star yesterday, is damning of both NHS Suffolk and the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA), both bodies today said the dramatic move left them “delighted”.

The surprise news comes as the Star today publishes in full the doctors' words from the letter described as “momentous” by Dr Richard Watts who led the campaign to collect 105 signatures.

In it the consultants say they are “increasingly concerned at the current and future plans for gradual loss of specialist services from this hospital” and add “we would like to express our growing lack of confidence in the decision making processes upon which these service changes are being made”.

But in a statement NHS Suffolk and the SHA said: “We are delighted that senior clinicians of Ipswich Hospital are supportive of their local hospital and the services it provides, and are also behind the drive for foundation trust status being led by the chief executive with local people.

“This is as it should be - local clinicians dedicated and passionate about providing the best possible care and services they can.

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“We have always been clear that there is a robust future for Ipswich Hospital as an excellent and thriving local district general hospital - serving people in east Suffolk in providing excellence in general hospital services.

“This includes in certain specialist areas, such as radiotherapy, gynaelogical cancer and spinal surgery, and as a centre of excellence for a wider population.

“NHS Suffolk is also planning to invest in other services this year - such as maternity, reducing the time people wait for treatment, cancer services and health promotion services. The hospital's new Garret Anderson Centre represents one of the largest investments in Ipswich Hospital ever - and is only a year old - concrete evidence of a hospital with a healthy future.”

However the health bodies will still have an uphill battle to convince the hospital staff and Suffolk community that Ipswich Hospital's future is bright.

The hospital's chief executive, Andrew Reed, said: “We've got a group of really outstanding consultants at the hospital.

“They are expressing concerns that are shared on a widespread basis by the staff and the community.

“What they are representing is a level of anxiety in the hospital which is extremely strong.

“What we now need is a clear, specific, ten-year strategy and I think that responsibility lies in part with Ipswich Hospital.

“The NHS locally also needs to be much more specific about the services that Ipswich Hospital will retain in the future. That work is going on at the moment and perhaps this letter will accelerate that.”