Chance to hear more about Ipswich and Colchester hospital merger plans at public meeting today

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals - Credit: Archant

Landmark proposals to merge two of the region’s biggest hospitals are set to be given the go-ahead today.

Bosses will consider the outline business case for the fusion of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals at the first ever joint public meeting of both trusts from 10.30am to 11.30am at Langham Community Centre.

Members of public are encouraged to attend and hear more about the impact of one of the most significant healthcare transformations in Suffolk and Essex in decades.

If the case is approved, leaders will go on to develop a detailed blueprint for the combined organisation, which is predicted to save the two hospitals £40 million in running costs over five years.

A final decision will be made early next year, and if all goes smoothly the change will take place in June 2018.

A spokesman for the two trusts said: “We’ve been speaking with our staff, patients and other supporters about the partnership for the last six months as part of our programme to involve them in producing our business case.

“We are now holding our meeting in public so that anyone who wants to do so can come along and hear our discussion as we make this important decision.”

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester, has previously said both hospitals were not sustainable in their current state, and would struggle to continue to deliver all of the services they currently do if they stayed separate.

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Supporters argue a merger will mean the hospitals can share resources and administrative paperwork, improve care by pulling together the skills and knowledge of clinicians, cut patient waiting times, reduce vacant posts, invest more money in buildings and equipment and prevent people from needing to travel to bigger regional centre in London, Cambridge and Norwich for specialist treatment.

• Read what Suffolk and Essex leaders think of the proposals

However, Mr Hulme has conceded there could be staff redundancies if the move goes forward.

Under the new system, clinical services would fully integrate, with only emergency departments, urgent medical care and full doctor-led maternity services guaranteed to remain at both sites.

But Mr Hulme has said no significant changes, including movement of services from one hospital to another, would go ahead without consultation with members of the public and other organisations first.

Ipswich Hospital is currently rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission, whereas Colchester Hospital is deemed ‘inadequate’ and has been in special measures since 2013.

Critics fear the fusion may drag Ipswich drown, but Mr Hulme has said he would not allow that to happen.