MP: I'll be a 'watchdog' for Ipswich Hospital
PUBLISHED: 21:51 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 21:51 29 January 2020
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has pledged to play a "watchdog role" to make sure the town's hospital is not dragged down by Colchester Hospital following a merger.
The hospitals from the two towns merged in July 2018 and are now both run by the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), with a single chief executive and management team.
However Mr Hunt said it was "disappointing" ESNEFT's latest inspection published in January, which rated the organisation as "requires improvement" overall, could not make direct comparisons to Ipswich Hospital's previous "good" rating.
That was because before the merger, Ipswich Hospital was assessed on its own - whereas it is now inspected alongside Colchester Hospital.
In a parliamentary debate, Mr Hunt said: "While I think the merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals has the potential to add weight to our voice when it comes to calling for more investment, as may well have been the case in securing the new A&E department in Ipswich and the new orthopaedic centre, it is important that the interests of Ipswich residents are put first in the merger.
"I will adopt a watchdog role when it comes to the merger to ensure that both Ipswich and Colchester hospitals improve together and that it's not the case that the underperforming hospital drags the good hospital down."
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When ESNEFT was rated "requires improvement" this year, chief executive Nick Hulme said he was disappointed - but felt it was no reflection on the merger.
However Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said he feared issues continuing to be tackled at Colchester may have pulled both acute hospitals down.
Last year ESNEFT announced that Ipswich and Colchester would be served by a single orthopaedic centre in the future.
A decision is due to be made on whether it will be built in Ipswich or Colchester - but Mr Hunt said: "If the orthopaedic centre is eventually located in Colchester, I will endeavour to ensure that Ipswich residents only have to go there for main operations.
"All other appointments must be made at the nearest possible hospital to where people live."
In his speeches so far in parliament, Mr Hunt has made clear that he believes "Ipswich and East Anglia get an unfair deal when it comes to funding".
He believes that "healthcare funding is no exception".