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Moving hip and knee surgery out of Ipswich is ‘detrimental’ to Suffolk patients, surgeons warn

PUBLISHED: 07:03 12 June 2020

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

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

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Two orthopaedic surgeons at Ipswich Hospital have slammed proposals to axe hip and knee surgery in the town and move it to Colchester, claiming that it will be “detrimental” to Suffolk patients.

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

Tim Brammer and Steven Pryke spoke at the virtual joint Suffolk and Essex health scrutiny meeting on Thursday afternoon, where they outlined their fears over the proposed shake-up of services - which would see all elective knee and hip replacement procedures move from Ipswich to Colchester.

MORE: Two thirds against move of orthopaedic surgery from Ipswich to Colchester

Mr Brammer said: “It’s my opinion that this will not be in the interest of Suffolk and north Essex, and not in the interest of significant swathes of people in the ESNEFT [East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust] catchment area, but it will be a replica of current services that ultimately downgrades Ipswich Hospital as part of ESNEFT.”

He added: “On all counts this will be detrimental to the Suffolk patients and carers and their experience of health and wellbeing in the area.” He instead called for “sensible, two-site, affordable investment”.

Mr Pryke said: “Our belief is that good outcomes are a result of a team effort over many years. The team will be dismantled in this reorganisation.”

Councillor Helen Armitage questioned why people were not given more information about why Ipswich was not considered feasible in the orthopaedic surgery consultation. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCouncillor Helen Armitage questioned why people were not given more information about why Ipswich was not considered feasible in the orthopaedic surgery consultation. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The comments came as the health scrutiny was tasked with assessing whether the consultation carried out by ESNEFT had been carried out fairly, which it unanimously agreed it had.

However, Suffolk councillor Helen Armitage said that while she understood the reason given for Ipswich not being a viable option, she questioned why that had not been made clear to people. She said: “Certainly from the feedback people want it to be in Ipswich, and that’s not really reflected in the decision being made.”

Those consultation results, published last week, found that nearly two thirds of respondents were against the £35m plans.

But Dr Steve Wilkinson, who oversaw the consultation for the trust, said it was “a qualitative process rather than quantitative, it wasn’t a referendum”.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals said the new orthopaedic surgery unit at Colchester would help more than 6,000 patients who were in pain. Picture: ARCHANTNick Hulme, chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals said the new orthopaedic surgery unit at Colchester would help more than 6,000 patients who were in pain. Picture: ARCHANT

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He added that the trust could not be certain how many people were in favour of the plans but did not respond in the consultation.

The trust said that having a new centre at Colchester would enable surgeons to carry out more complex surgery more easily, rather than patients needing to go to Cambridge or Norwich.

Other benefits cited include a reduced number of cancelled appointments, shorter waiting lists, reduced variation in surgery, freeing up other parts of the hospital estate for investment in other departments and allowing more opportunities for research and innovation.

Dr Ed Garratt from the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs said it was about adding services not removing them.  Picture: IESCCG/Ben CARMICHAELDr Ed Garratt from the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs said it was about adding services not removing them. Picture: IESCCG/Ben CARMICHAEL

Trust chief executive Nick Hulme said the consultation did not offer Ipswich as a proposal because “there wasn’t an option that was affordable and feasible”.

He said: “The role of us as leaders in public service is to do our very best for the community we serve within the constraints we find ourselves in.

“We would love to develop two orthopaedic care centres but we don’t have the resource to do so.

“Over 6,000 people are currently waiting in a degree of discomfort [for surgery].

MORE: What hospital orthopaedic surgery shake-up entails

“I believe passionately that what we are proposing will go some significant way to easing that anxiety, fear and pain for our residents.”

According to the trust, a sub-group was being formed to address travel and transport fears of patients from Suffolk who would need to have surgery in Colchester – the number one most common theme to emerge from the consultation.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer of the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, will give the final go-ahead for proposals alongside his CCG board colleagues next month. He said: “This is about putting in something additional for our community, not taking something away – it’s a really positive message.”


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