Huge electric bill for hospital

A CATALOGUE of sub-standard electrical equipment at Ipswich Hospital is today in need of urgent repair in order to safeguard patient care, a new report has found.

A CATALOGUE of sub-standard electrical equipment at Ipswich Hospital is today in need of urgent repair in order to safeguard patient care, a new report has found.

The study, commissioned by the hospital, found that more than £3.6m of work is needed in order to update the hospital's electrical systems and ensure they are fit for the future.

It also revealed that the hospital currently spends £13,500 a month hiring generators because some of its own are insufficient.

The report, by a firm of electricians, states: “Without investment in the electrical infrastructure and emergency backup generation no further development of clinical services are possible without risk of electrical service failure.”

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The report also confirms that there is a ban on using kettles, fans and mobile heaters in some areas of the hospital, as first reported in The Evening Star this summer.

It was initially believed that this was a money-saving measure but hospital bosses have admitted that it is due to the electrical systems being unable to cope with demand.

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Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman, said: “In some parts of the hospital there was too big a drainage on the electricity available.”

She added there is no risk to patient safety at present but there could be problems if the situation is not sorted out in the near future.

She said: “It's not saying that what we've got at the moment is unsafe, it's saying that we've reached the end of the line with what we've got and we need to invest for the future.

“The work is essential if we are going to maintain the calibre of patient care that we provide.”

At present the hospital operates on a mixture of mains electricity and its own supply, as well as having back-up generators in the event of a power failure.

The work will include updating generators and electrical switchboards to ensure they are suitable for the increasing level of electricity the hospital needs.

Ms Rowsell said: “Most of the infrastructure is at least 30 years old, and 30 years ago we did not have half the amount of sophisticated medical equipment that we do now.”

The work is expected to mean no major improvements have to be carried out for another 20 years.

The plans will be discussed at a meeting of the hospital's board next week before being submitted to their pay-masters the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA) to see if they will provide the cash.

Because the money for the work is coming from the SHA it should not have an impact on the hospital's £24m debt.

Ms Rowsell said the bid had not been submitted earlier as the hospital needed to know what impact the new Garrett Anderson Centre was likely to have on its power demands.

Although the new centre itself will be fed from a separate power supply, its creation has led to parts of the existing hospital being able to be closed.

Ms Rowsell said: “It would have been foolish to invest public money in areas of the hospital which we may no longer be using in a year's time.”

Are you concerned about the hospital's power supplies? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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