Intensive care vital to all

PUBLISHED: 19:30 23 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:58 03 March 2010

THOUSANDS of people in East Suffolk rely on the fact that just a few minutes drive away there is a fantastic intensive care unit should they ever need it.

THOUSANDS of people in East Suffolk rely on the fact that just a few minutes drive away there is a fantastic intensive care unit should they ever need it.

But today the fears of some top doctors that the unit might close is a major worry for everyone concerned.

Five hospitals in East Anglia – Addenbrooke's, Norfolk and Norwich, Peterborough and Cambridge have just become regional centres.

This gives them the freedom to decide exactly how they work and will be able to decide their own financial and clinical priorities.

Now senior doctors at Ipswich are scared that the town's intensive care unit might be moved to the regional centres.

However, the hospital has categorically denied that this is going to happen and spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said that in fact the exact reverse could be happening.

She said today: "There is absolutely and categorically no truth in the suggestion that we may close the Intensive Care Unit.

"The fears are completely groundless. In fact what we are working on is the complete reverse of what has been suggested.

"We are hoping to get the go-ahead to create a state of the art centre with the latest technology in a more spacious environment which will mean that we will be able to increase the number of beds and facilities should we need to.

"All of our staff have been kept completely up to date with the progress of our proposals to the Strategic Health Authority for Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk which replaced the NHS Executive Eastern Region.

"Without a specialist Intensive Care Unit and High Dependency Unit we would not be able to run the hospital.

"We would like to stress that these fears are completely groundless."

Ms Rowsell stressed that the hospital has an excellent intensive care unit and accident and emergency department, but the Intensive care unit was built more than 20 years ago and now needs to be brought up to date.

A bid from Ipswich hospital to the SHA is in place for an £11 million scheme to up date the unit and provide a much better and bigger service for the patients.

It has taken around two years for the proposal to be put together and this length of time has become a cause for concern for some staff.

But Ms Rowsell said that the proposal was taking a long time to enable it to cover all areas.

It also had to be revised last year after a series of major flaws were discovered. The size of the Heath Road complex should have 16 critical care beds but it has just six.

The two high dependency beds have a 91 per cent occupancy rate, which should only be 75 per cent.

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