Ipswich v Colchester: tug of war begins over where new £30million orthopaedic centre is built
The battle lines have been drawn in a fight over where a £30million orthopaedic centre should be built.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust has proposed to build a state-of-the-art new centre as part of a £63million investment.
But it has said it will be built either in Ipswich or Colchester - meaning MPs representing those areas have started a tug of war of which one is chosen.
As the plans for the new centre go to public consultation next year, Witham MP Priti Patel and Ipswich MP Sandy Martin have both contacted Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, to put forward their cases.
Mr Martin said he had a meeting with Mr Hulme on August 5 to put forward his argument for Ipswich.
"I made my case very strongly," he said.
"I believe there is sense in having a centralised and specialised centre in the area.
"However, I believe there will also be a unit that can do this work in Basildon.
"I made the case that it's far more sensible to be located in Ipswich because it is far more central between Norwich and Basildon, distance wise.
"It is not fair to place additional burden on patients."
However, Ms Patel said she had also written to Mr Hulme to argue the case for Colchester.
She said: "In my constituency, there is no hospital or other significant outpatient service and it would be disappointing if my constituents had to travel even further to access vital health services.
"If the new orthopaedic centre was based in Ipswich, my constituents would have to travel more than 20 miles to attend an appointment, which would be difficult for a number of patients, especially those who have limited access to appropriate transport services."
Mr Hulme said the development would require a public consultation.
He said: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a significant investment in the health and wellbeing of the people in our area.
"In our plans for the merger we committed that wherever we anticipated making significant changes to the way we deliver services, we would work with our patients and the public and, if necessary, conduct formal public consultation."