Hospital boss outlines vision for future

IPSWICH Hospital is applying for Foundation Trust status, a move strongly backed by The Evening Star as the way to take the hospital forward.

IPSWICH Hospital is applying for Foundation Trust status, a move strongly backed by The Evening Star as the way to take the hospital forward. We challenged chief executive ANDREW REED to outline his vision for the future of the hospital if it wins its battle.

Today Mr Reed tells us - potential patients, staff, and visitors how he sees the hospital develop, and how it can become an important regional centre in the future.>

IPSWICH Hospital has a reputation for being one of the biggest, busiest and safest general hospitals in East Anglia.

First and foremost we are a hospital that serves a local population, the 340,000 people who live and work in Ipswich and East Suffolk.

But the role of hospitals has been changing markedly since the concept of the “district general hospital” was first devised in the 1960s as an “all singing, all dancing” service, often the first port of call for all but the most straightforward health problems.

The success of the NHS has meant that people with long term illness such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and even cancer, can live more active lives without the need for multiple hospital visits.

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These days all hospitals such as ours must form effective networks of care with GPs and with other hospitals to ensure that people with complex care needs can be managed in the most appropriate setting and by the most appropriate people.

We will work hard to treat people without the need for any hospital stay.

Those that do need to stay will on average be ready to go home after four or five days.

Even the most complex problems should be resolved within two or three weeks at most, allowing patients to go home or to be transferred to a more appropriate rehabilitation setting.

Within this context we want to deliver our core purpose - to be renowned for our commitment to excellence in the provision of healthcare - by making three big service commitments:

First to provide consistent excellence in emergency care, planned care (usually waiting list operations), maternity and children's care.

Second, to be among the national leaders for the care of older people in hospital;

And third, to provide some more specialist services where they meet defined accreditation standards.

WHAT will the future of Ipswich Hospital look like?

For the thousands of patients attending Ipswich Hospital each year with an emergency problem - either brought to us by emergency ambulance or referred directly to us as an emergency by their local GP - we will provide them with quick and accurate assessment and treatment.

Around 30per cent of GP referred patients will be able to go home on the same day without the need for hospital admission.

For those who do need inpatient treatment we would expect to transfer them to the care of a specialist team in a ward that is clean, free from the risk of infection and properly segregating male and female patients.

The doctors, nurses and other clinical professionals will work quickly and using established evidence to provide the most effective treatment without unnecessary delays in things such as test results, and patients should be transferred to another ward only where their clinical condition supports it.

Every patient should be given an expected day on which they can be discharged as soon as possible after they have been diagnosed, so that if further care is required after hospital treatment the patient can transfer quickly, easily and in a planned way.

The same principles apply to operations and other planned treatments.

Patients will be able to book their outpatient appointments themselves or with the help of their GP practice, with as many checks and tests as possible carried out before the operation for those who need surgery in order to avoid the risk of cancellation.

Already three quarters of patients who have operations in Ipswich Hospital will be treated as a day case without the need for an overnight stay, and with the additional capacity of the new Garrett Anderson Centre there is every opportunity to push this number to eight out of every 10.

Our specialist services too are important to us, albeit the minority of what we do in terms of volume.

The loss of some of these services has led to uncertainty about the hospital's status and indeed its future, but we will continue services such as radiotherapy, spinal surgery, gynaecological cancer surgery, bone marrow transplant procedures and highly specialist neonatal intensive care services - services that are not provided in many other local hospitals.

These services are not only strong at Ipswich Hospital, but are capable of further development offering the services either more extensively to our local community, or to a wider catchment area.

Our local residents have benefited enormously from having these services on their doorstop in a way that people in other areas have not.

We are also actively planning further new services for our population. We introduced a leading edge procedure known as radiofrequency tumour ablation last year allowing some cancers to be treated with yet greater precision and effectiveness.

We are developing keyhole surgery for many lower abdominal surgical procedures, something that we have not done before; we are providing bowel screening services to prevent further cancers in collaboration with Colchester Hospital as well as looking to develop a screening service for aortic aneurisms.

In addition we are very hopeful of providing special obesity surgery next year, as well as exploring the possibility of extending our cardiology services by providing planned catheterisation treatments known as angioplasty.

In all of this work clinical networks will become ever more important.

Just as we need to work more closely with our GPs and have stronger communication and clearer more consistent clinical standards, so we will work with other hospitals, whether it will be our near neighbours in Colchester and West Suffolk with whom we share many common services, or with the more specialist centres such as Norwich and Cambridge.

Already many cancer treatments are provided on this basis with multi-disciplinary teams sitting in different hospitals but managing patients' treatment in a coordinated way with video technology.

Now it is the norm to provide x-ray images on the computer screen which can be read with high definition remotely from the hospital, and indeed some of our cardiological tests are assessed and interpreted for us by experts as far away as Canada.

This is not unique, and will ensure that our local patients benefit from the best expertise locally, regionally and even internationally.

We recognise that this is a challenging future for us, but it sets out a strong future for Ipswich Hospital which is supported not just by the board of directors and our clinical community, but also by other NHS bodies including NHS Suffolk, who are responsible for buying the vast majority of our services and with whom we have worked closely in developing our plans, as well as the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group and Strategic Health Authority.

Despite the uncertainties of the past few months we believe there is not only much to be proud of at Ipswich Hospital, but much to build on as well as we continue to improve the services we provide for the people of Ipswich and East Suffolk

Are you happy with the way Ipswich Hospital is hoping to develop? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail >

WE have a specific ambition for the way in which older people are cared for in our hospital, recognising that Suffolk has one of the fastest growing very elderly populations in the country.

Older people feel more vulnerable than younger patients, often have more complex problems, and often are more dependent on their families or carers for support.

We want to have the strongest possible communication with the carers, family and GPs of older people to ensure that all their needs are understood as they come into hospital and that we can respond appropriately.

We want to ensure that we show them the highest respect and maintain their dignity at all times: to check whether or not they wish to be called by their first names; to ensure that they are not treated in areas shared by the opposite sex; to ensure that the hospital is clean, and the standards of food are good.

We must also ensure that they can get to and from the hospital easily and we will ensure that services that are very age specific - such as treatment for fractured hips, or care for whom dementia is a complicating factor - are provided to the very highest standards.

A FOUNDATION Trust puts power and influence where we feel it should be - in the hands of the people it serves. It is an independent organisation which has more freedom from the Department of Health, where the community shapes the future of the hospital.

As a member of the community, you have an important stake in this hospital.

Your opinions and your involvement really matter because being a foundation trust is about building a future together, where patients, visitors, staff, volunteers and local residents have a much greater say in developing hospital services for the community.

As an NHS foundation trust, the hospital would be more closely linked with local people who would have the right to become members and vote for governors with real opportunities to have their say about the way the hospital works.

Being a foundation trust would free us from central government control, allowing us to determine locally how best to spend our money. We would then be able to improve and shape our services to meet the specific needs of all the people who use our hospital - to whom we would be accountable.

Foundation trusts are not about breaking away from the NHS. In fact, they are about building on the best of the NHS, including its commitment to the highest standards of healthcare.