Hospital forced to shut private ward

IPSWICH Hospital has been forced to shut its private medical ward because it is still failing to treat patients quickly enough, it emerged today.

IPSWICH Hospital has been forced to shut its private medical ward because it is still failing to treat patients quickly enough, it emerged today.

Until last May 18, Bramford Ward treated private medical patients - providing Ipswich Hospital with a hefty income to reinvest in other services.

But because the hospital is still struggling to treat enough patients within 18 weeks of being referred to hospital it has been forced to take the decision of changing Bramford Ward to an NHS ward.

Meanwhile the Department of Health has been called in to help the hospital tackle the backlog, although health bosses do not expect it to be back on track until at least August.

The news comes two months after the hospital's chief executive, Andrew Reed, apologised personally to 21 patients who waited more than six months for treatment and pledged to improve its service.

The hospital hopes that by transforming the 12-bed Bramford Ward it will free up resources which can be used to treat patients on waiting lists.

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Mr Reed said: “We are first and foremost an NHS hospital and our priority is to shorten waiting times for NHS patients.

“Where private patients have to be treated for reasons of clinical risk or their insurance policy stipulates it then they will be treated here at the hospital.”

The hospital hopes the move will be temporary and Bramford Ward, which first opened in 1988, will be able to take private patients again once the waiting time problems have been cleared.

Have you faced a long wait for treatment at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.