New health centre opens

PATIENTS are today settling in to a new multi-million pound health centre on the Ravenswood estate.Bluebird Lodge opened its doors to the first patients on Monday and is expected to be fully up and running by April 18.

PATIENTS are today settling in to a new multi-million pound health centre on the Ravenswood estate.

Bluebird Lodge opened its doors to the first patients on Monday and is expected to be fully up and running by April 18.

The £4m building will replace St Edmunds nursing home, on Constitution Hill, Ipswich, as well as 15 respite beds at the Monmouth Court nursing home.

John Such, director of integrated services for Ipswich PCT, said: "Everyone involved in the move has said what a great thing it will be.


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"The facilities at St Edmunds were not suitable for the 21st century and problems with access meant we could not treat all the patients we can here.

"This is not a nursing home in the traditional sense. The longest people are expected to stay here is six weeks, and many will not be here for as long as that."

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The ground floor contains a kitchen, dining room, gym and a specially-adapted flat which can be used by patients to help them prepare to go back out in the community.

It also contains a number of rooms which may be used for specialist clinics.

Mr Such said: "We will be bringing in GPs with specialist interests, which will enable us to offer things like ear, nose and throat and dermatology clinics.

"The idea is to base the services here so we don't have to refer everyone to the hospital."

On the first floor there are 20 en-suite rooms, and on the second there are two four-bedroom flats linked by a communal living area.

Mr Such said consultation with staff had been "very positive" and that no jobs had been lost as a result of the transfers.

Margaret Frost, manager of St Edmunds, will take on the role of manager at Bluebird Lodge.

She said: "It's going to be quite a challenge but everyone's looking forward to it. The staff at St Edmunds are certainly very excited about the move."

Will you or your family be affected by the move? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Bluebird Lodge is at the centre of the East Suffolk primary care trusts' plans to get people back in to the community more quickly after a stay in hospital.

It is designed to be a 'step-up, step-down' facility for people not ill enough to be in hospital, but too ill to be cared for in the community.

In the past the £4million centre at Ravenswood had been billed as the answer to bed blocking at Ipswich Hospital because many frail and elderly patients had nowhere to go and could not look after themselves.

In the meantime, a temporary measure was set up at privately run Monmouth Court and 15 NHS patients were moved there from the hospital. They were always intended to move to Bluebird Lodge when it opened.

In February it was revealed that Bluebird Lodge would also be used by patients transferring from St Edmunds on Constitution Hill. Patient groups were concerned that this meant the loss of two beds – St Edmunds and Monmouth Court had a total of 30, Bluebird Lodge only has 28.

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