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Confidence in Ipswich Hospital merger ‘hanging by a thread’ as Colchester orthopaedic centre approved

PUBLISHED: 16:58 14 July 2020 | UPDATED: 21:35 14 July 2020

The decision to choose Colchester Hospital for the new orthopaedic centre has drawn criticism from several Ipswich leaders. Picture: ESNEFT/HOUSE OF COMMONS/ISSBA

The decision to choose Colchester Hospital for the new orthopaedic centre has drawn criticism from several Ipswich leaders. Picture: ESNEFT/HOUSE OF COMMONS/ISSBA

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Orthopaedic surgery will be moved out of Ipswich Hospital to a new facility in Colchester after plans were approved by healthcare bosses in a ‘disappointing’ blow for the town.

The governing bodies of Ipswich and East Suffolk and North East Essex CCGs came together today to vote on approving the £44million centre which will move the majority of orthopaedic surgery away from Ipswich.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, which runs the two hospitals, said they had listened to the concerns voiced in the public consultation where 64% of people objected to elective surgery being moved to Colchester, however there must be a trade off for services to improve.

“We have an opportunity to have a safe space to treat our most urgent patients who need absolutely essential care,” he said.

“I have heard concerns from our staff, patients and the public but there has to be a trade off.

MORE: Two thirds against Ipswich Hospital orthopaedic surgery move consultation reveals

“That is that some patients have to travel slightly further compared to others instead of having longer waiting times or having surgery cancelled.

“I believe that trade off is worth it – but it does not mean we have ignored the public, patients or staff.”

The new centre in Colchester will provide a dedicated suite of 48 beds dedicated to planned orthopaedic surgery, with operations protected from cancellations and emergency procedures.

It is also hoped the new centre, to be built in Turner Road and completed by 2025, will attract the best medical professionals and create an increased capacity to treat the growing population locally.

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Before and after care will still be provided at whichever hospital is closest to the patient’s home, including x-rays, pre-assessments and physiotherapy as well as any emergency procedures.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has publicly opposed the proposal since the results of the consultation were revealed and said: “I am very disappointed about the decision and the way the process has been handled.

“There is growing concern about the merger between Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, whether it is working to the advantage of Ipswich or not and this decision will feed into that feeling that Ipswich has not benefited.

“Confidence in the merger is hanging by a thread and there are a lot of concerns they need to address in the proposal for the orthopaedic centre.”

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere agreed with Mr Hunt that the merger was not working to the advantage of Ipswich and that this latest decision was ‘the thin end of the wedge’.

“I am deeply disappointed with the decision and this is clearly a downgrade for Ipswich Hospital,” he said.

“I think it will result in a worse experience for Ipswich patients and there is no doubt in my mind that the merger is not working.”

Mr Ellesmere also criticised the decision to include a replacement day surgery unit at Colchester Hospital in the plans, as he claims this was part of the financial motivation for the elective orthopaedic services to be moved.

Mr Hulme has said he will be offering to meet with Mr Ellesmere and Mr Hunt to discuss their concerns as detailed plans begin to be drawn up for the centre.

MORE: First look at £25m plans for new Ipswich Hospital A&E


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