Two thirds against Ipswich Hospital orthopaedic surgery move – but are plans still being pursued?
PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 June 2020
Plans to move orthopaedic surgery out of Ipswich and into a new facility in Colchester have been recommended for approval, despite nearly two thirds of consultation respondents being against the move.
Results of the 12-week consultation held during the spring have been published ahead of a joint health scrutiny meeting with Suffolk and Essex county councils next week, and revealed just 36% supported the move, while 64% were against it.
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The £34million plans propose to shut down the elective orthopaedic surgery facility at Ipswich Hospital, with a brand new facility built at the Colchester Hospital site to serve patients from both areas.
Despite the consultation results, minutes of the stakeholder meeting held on May 19 revealed it was the “majority view” of the stakeholder group for the plans to be pursued.
A final decision is expected on July 14.
Ipswich borough councillor Sarah Barber, who is also a nurse at the hospital, said: “I am really disappointed that this process is continuing to proceed given the strength of the feelings of the people who have responded to the consultation.
“There seems to be overwhelming public opinion against it moving.
“They are moving a service at Ipswich Hospital that is doing really well and has got national recognition.
“The people using this will be largely elderly people with mobility issues – that’s why they are having joint replacements. They are having to travel quite a distance, this is not an improvement.”
Mrs Barber said she was also concerned by the lack of representation for unions and junior staff at the stakeholder event.
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Why Colchester has been identified
According to bosses of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) which runs the two hospitals, Colchester has been identified because there is space available on the site, and could accommodate more beds and have larger en-suite rooms. It also aims to reduce delays and cancellations – currently at around one in three because of the need to accommodate emergency patients, and improve the overall level of care.
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The new unit would feature state of the art equipment and initially house 54 beds.
Hospital trust chief executive Nick Hulme said that outpatient work and pre-surgery appointments would still remain at people’s nearest hospital.
Following the consultation results being published, he said: “We are committed to listening to the views of our patients, carers, staff and communities, and were pleased that around 450 people took the time to respond to our consultation, attend a public meeting or comment on the proposal for our new elective care centre on social media.
“All of their feedback has been independently analysed and discussed by our stakeholders, and will now be considered in detail by the health scrutiny next week.
“The governing bodies of North East Essex and Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), will make a final decision on the proposal later in the summer.”
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said the level of public feeling against the plans was significant, and that if the consultation had only been held in and around Ipswich he expected the respondents against it would have been even higher.
He said: “They have done the consultation and it’s quite clear in my view that the vast majority are against it.
“We have a really first class orthopaedic service at Ipswich Hospital at the moment, and I am very hesitant for anything to be done that changes that.
“I need to establish whether or not there is any chance of it being looked at again, but if this does end up going ahead then there needs to be a clear plan that takes into account people’s concerns as to how they get there and get home.
“I would want a cast iron promise that all pre-op and post-op appointments are held in Ipswich, and I want to be reassured that the high standard and quality of care that is on offer in Ipswich does not decline. This remains a very important issue.”
Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere added: “We are extremely disappointed about the outcome of the stakeholder group – though not hugely surprised as it has been clear all along that there was no intention of changing the planned moved away from Ipswich.
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“All the same, it is worrying that the concerns of so many people have been so lightly cast aside and that the response Ipswich Borough Council made which showed that a centre could be provided at Heath Road has not been responded to. We still believe this proposal is a bad deal for the people of Ipswich and Suffolk.”
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