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‘Once it’s gone, it’s gone’ - Hospital nurse and borough councillor raises fears over orthopaedic surgery move

PUBLISHED: 08:56 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:56 19 March 2020

Ipswich Hospital has lost out on the bid for a new orthopaedic centre - but will get a new Accident and Emergancy department

Ipswich Hospital has lost out on the bid for a new orthopaedic centre - but will get a new Accident and Emergancy department

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Fresh fears have been raised over a planned move of orthopaedic surgery out of Ipswich Hospital, with opponents suggesting it is not in the best interests of patients.

Ipswich Hospital nurse and borough councillor Sarah Barber said she had real fears about the hospital being downgraded. Picture: GREGG BROWNIpswich Hospital nurse and borough councillor Sarah Barber said she had real fears about the hospital being downgraded. Picture: GREGG BROWN

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) launched a consultation last month for £30million plans that would see orthopaedic surgery moved out of Ipswich and into Colchester Hospital, although post-surgery services would remain in Heath Road.

MORE: Suffolk Public Sector Leaders hear concerns over hospital orthopaedic surgery plans

It prompted a flurry of concerns from civic leaders, with Ipswich borough councillor and Ipswich Hospital nurse Sarah Barber the latest to express her concerns.

She said: “When the trust merged my understanding was they would use the two hospitals to increase efficiencies, about buying power and things they share. That all makes sense, but now it feels like they are treating the two hospitals as one big hospital but across two sites and assuming it’s okay for people to travel between the two of them.

“They already have two theatres that are dedicated to elective [orthopaedic] surgery, and they have the Martlesham Ward that has 28 beds dedicated to looking after those patients.

An artist's impression of what the new orthopaedic centre will look like in Colchester. Picture: ESNEFTAn artist's impression of what the new orthopaedic centre will look like in Colchester. Picture: ESNEFT

“Ipswich has a really good reputation for orthopaedic surgery. They are taking it away from Ipswich Hospital which does this surgery and does it really well.”

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Other fears Mrs Barber raised were the increase in reliance on transport to take patients to Colchester - as well as families who would struggle on public transport, patients finding it more difficult to access the same surgeon who carried out their operation while they are recovering and the business case for the consultation not having been publicised.

She added: “Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Vascular services have already gone to Colchester and head and neck surgery has gone to Norfolk and Norwich. I really do worry about the downgrading of Ipswich Hospital.”

Dr Shane Gordon from ESNEFT said the borough council's response would be considered.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDr Shane Gordon from ESNEFT said the borough council's response would be considered. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Next week, Ipswich Borough Council’s executive is set to agree the authority’s response to the consultation.

Its draft report says: “The decision appears to have been pre-determined – clearly ESNEFT decided on Colchester over six months ago – and much of the documentation has been written to support this view rather than compare options on a level playing field.

“Ipswich Hospital always loses out when it comes to ‘specialist’ services.

“Despite Ipswich Hospital effectively rescuing Colchester Hospital – due to ideological NHS rules, Ipswich Hospital was the one taken over and now its core ‘grade’ is worse – making this loss even harder to stomach.”

Dr Shane Gordon, director of strategy at ESNEFT said: “We welcome all responses as part of the public consultation process. Ipswich Borough Council’s response will be considered following consultation as part of the decision-making process.”

To find out more about the proposals and take part in the consultation, visit the website here.

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