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New Ipswich Hospital women’s centre revealed in move away from tower block in project costing estimated £70million

PUBLISHED: 05:30 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:10 10 June 2020

Ipswich Hospital have revealed plans to move maternity services from the tower block to a new build women's centre. Picture: LAURA GUNSON

Ipswich Hospital have revealed plans to move maternity services from the tower block to a new build women's centre. Picture: LAURA GUNSON

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Ipswich Hospital has announced the plans to move maternity, gynaecology and ambulatory services out of its landmark tower block and into a new purpose-built women’s centre which could cost £50million to £70million.

The maternity block at Ipswich Hospital was built in October 1969 and the building was officially opened in November 1970. Picture: JERRY TURNERThe maternity block at Ipswich Hospital was built in October 1969 and the building was officially opened in November 1970. Picture: JERRY TURNER

The new centre has been revealed as part of plans by the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) for beyond the next five years and will see clinical services moved from the tower block which was built in 1969.

Paul Fenton, director of estate and facilities for ESNEFT, has explained that the trust has a desire to gradually move inpatient services from the older north end of the Ipswich site, towards the south end.

He said: “The tower block is structurally safe, we have had tests completed and it has been given a 40-year lifetime.

“It does however, have some external decorating which needs doing and we considered cladding for the outside of the building – but since Grenfell we changed our minds and decided to paint it instead.”

Paul Fenton is the director of estate and facilities for the East Suffollk and North Essex Foundation Trust and has spoken about plans for the new woen's centre at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ESNEFTPaul Fenton is the director of estate and facilities for the East Suffollk and North Essex Foundation Trust and has spoken about plans for the new woen's centre at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ESNEFT

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Work is currently going ahead to repaint the outside of the tower block in blue, white and cream to give it a new finish.

The new build women’s centre, which is only in the initial stages of planning, will hope to house obstetrics and gynaecology wards, a birth centre, maternity theatres, a special care baby unit and neo-natal intensive care unit.

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There will also be ambulatory facilities for outpatients and diagnostics, which includes ultrasound and breast screening.

Mr Fenton added: “We would not look at demolishing the tower block, it is a good space, it has nine floors and we think it could be re-purposed to be used to relocate administrative staff.

“We may also use it for education and staff training.”

Mr Fenton said a conservative estimation for the cost of the project is approximately £50million but it may well be that after more planning the cost could rise to £70million.

The source of the funding for this new centre has not been confirmed yet and Mr Fenton added that the trust is likely to bid for central funding through the STP Health Infrastructure Plan process.

Other plans beyond the next five years include expanding the existing endoscopy unit and moving the urology investigations unit into alternative accommodation.

There may also be refurbishment of the south site theatres and the creation of a new 23-hour unit, alongside improved outpatient facilities.

This is in addition to eventually redeveloping the north end of the site for options such as residential accommodation, a wellness centre and car parking.

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