Letter exposes concerns for the future

THIS is the text of the letter sent by Dr Richard Watts on behalf of the Medical Staff Committee at Ipswich Hospital.

THIS is the text of the letter sent by Dr Richard Watts on behalf of the Medical Staff Committee at Ipswich Hospital.

It is addressed to Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover and Terry Hunt, editor of our sister paper the East Anglian Daily Times:

Dear Mr Hunt and Mr Pickover,

As a body of consultants at the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, we have become increasingly concerned at the current and future plans for gradual loss of specialist services from this hospital and from the whole East Suffolk Health community. We feel that it is our duty to inform the public served by this hospital of these concerns. The issues are much more wide ranging than the 'heart attack services' presently being covered in your paper.

We would like to express our growing lack of confidence in the decision making processes upon which these service changes are being made. The health management personnel involved have quite appropriately spoken of public and stakeholder involvement. We have witnessed a disregard for local professional advice and an inability to properly apply the evidence base to our local community and circumstances. Furthermore our Strategic Health Authority and NHS Suffolk have recently apologised for their failure to involve the public and all stakeholders in this process. The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust continues to deliver high quality clinical care in the presence of ever increasing financial constraints and demanding government targets. External audit data over many years has shown the hospital to have significantly lower than expected Hospital Standardised Mortality Rates (HSMR) when benchmarked against the national average. The clinical staff and management of the hospital together will continue to work with the public to achieve Foundation Trust status.

Immediate action, however, is needed if services and clinical skills are to be saved in East Suffolk and at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust. To begin with:

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1.We feel it is in the public interest to know what the 10 year plan is for Ipswich Hospital as viewed by our Strategic Health Authority.

2.It is important for senior managers and clinicians to share with the local population any impact the withdrawal of specialist services will have on the hospital's ability to deliver high quality care to patients.

3.We request that the decision making processes are reviewed to allow open debate and consultation with all stakeholders, informed by the best clinical evidence applied to our local circumstances. This transparency does not exist at the moment. It is only with a level of consultation that truly involves the local population and health professionals that the NHS in Suffolk will be able to deliver new, safe patient pathways and high quality care locally at an affordable price. This process is necessary to determine which patients will best be served by regionally based services outside Suffolk

It is essential that the residents and clinicians of East Suffolk enter the debate and have a clear understanding of the likely implications of any planned changes before patients and clinical skills are directed out of Suffolk.

Richard A Watts MA DM FRCP

Chair Medical Staff Committee

On behalf of the consultant medical staff at Ipswich Hospital