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What does Ipswich Hospital orthopaedic surgery move mean for frail patients?

PUBLISHED: 13:14 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:14 04 September 2020

The current orthopaedic and fracture clinic at Ipswich Hospital Picture: ARCHANT

The current orthopaedic and fracture clinic at Ipswich Hospital Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Frail patients in need of hip or knee replacements who have existing medical conditions will not be denied care under plans to move orthopaedics surgery out of Ipswich, senior hospital chiefs have confirmed.

Dr Shane Gordon from East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust said frail patients with existing medical needs would not be stopped from elective orthopaedic surgery under plans for a new centre in Colchester.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDr Shane Gordon from East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust said frail patients with existing medical needs would not be stopped from elective orthopaedic surgery under plans for a new centre in Colchester. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fears were raised during a scrutiny committee meeting of Ipswich Borough Council on Thursday night that the plans for a new orthopaedic unit in Colchester, which would see Suffolk patients having to cross the border into Essex for surgery, would see frail patients that have existing medical needs frozen out of procedures.

Councillor Tim Lockington, a retired Ipswich Hospital consultant, said: “My worry about this process is it will work extremely well provided you select patients who have very little variability, very little risk.

“The process is entirely about delivering, though a care pathway, a superb hip replacement, but I am very concerned that to do this safely you will need to possible be very selective, and the frailer citizens of Ipswich will be selected out.”

Mr Lockington said he understood the benefits of the new system – dramatically reduced waiting times and cancellations, state of the art new equipment and the ability to carry out more complex surgery – but added: “I am worried about the model if it cannot provide enabling surgery for people who carry some medical risk.”

An artist's impression of what the new orthopaedic centre will look like in Colchester. Picture: ESNEFTAn artist's impression of what the new orthopaedic centre will look like in Colchester. Picture: ESNEFT

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But the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs both Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said that having the centre at Colchester Hospital site would mean those patients could be accommodated - because it would not be isolated from the rest of the hospital site.

Dr Shane Gordon, director of strategy, research and innovation at ESNEFT, said: “There is no suggestion patients will be denied care because of frailty – in fact what they get will be a faster service when they are frail, which will make the most of their remaining years relieving them of the pain of their arthritic joints.

“I am absolutely confident we will have a good integration of medical, surgical, nursing, therapy care and diagnostics in this new centre.”

The trust has pledged further engagement with patients, the public, and other health and governing organisations as the final details are drawn up, expected to continue well into 2021.

A final decision was made in July to go ahead with controversial plans that will close elective orthopaedic surgery procedures in Ipswich in favour of a new facility in Colchester, which had attracted opposition from Ipswich’s MP Tom Hunt, the council and two thirds of consultation respondents.

However, the trust said that the Colchester site was the only affordable option to reduce high cancellation rates and waiting times, and confirmed all pre-op and post-op care could continue at whichever hospital was nearest for the patient.


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