Thumbs up looks likely for hospital bid

REGIONAL health bosses are believed to have been recommended to approve Ipswich Hospital's bid for a new £25m intensive care unit.The Strategic Health Authority, which meets this week, has been advised by a Capital Review Group of senior clinicians and directors from other NHS trusts in the region who toured the Heath Road site to help them decide.

By Tracey Sparling

REGIONAL health bosses have been recommended to approve Ipswich Hospital's bid for a new £24m intensive care unit.

As exclusively revealed on the Evening Star's 24-hour news website yesterday , the plan is close to approval.

The Strategic Health Authority, which meets this week, has been advised by a Capital Review Group of senior clinicians and directors from other NHS trusts in the region who toured the Heath Road site to help them decide.


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The authority will make a final decision when the board meets this Thursday .

The new unit would include state-of-the-art intensive care facilities and four operating theatres. It should provide huge benefits to the town and the surrounding area with diagnostic treatment centres and extra beds and space in intensive care.

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Other diagnostic treatment centres could also be developed around east Suffolk in areas such as Felixstowe and Woodbridge, to allow patients to get procedures such as X-rays nearer to their homes.

"We are delighted with the recommendation from the CRG but we still have to wait for the SHA decision," said a hospital spokeswoman.

"Until we are given formal approval by the SHA, which will not happen until the board meeting, we cannot take anything for granted.

"The CRG's support is vital," she added.

"Without the CRG recommendation the SHA would not even have been asked to make a final decision."

The Evening Star revealed the trust's latest bid in September last year.

A top doctor at the hospital had been concerned that the intensive care unit was going to close.

At the moment the intensive care unit is so cramped that the space around the beds is only half what it should be.

Last week Star reader Pat Bond stressed the need for a new unit, after experiencing the lack of space and privacy afforded to patients and their families as her daughter Sharon Leathers lay dying.

The new scheme would take several years to get up and running but would give the trust the capacity to meet strict government targets on waiting times.

The plans include building a four storey diagnostic treatment centre in front of the child health building in Heath Road as well as creating four new operating theatres, 40 extra short stay beds, and 30 new day case beds.

All this will mean that the hospital will reduce its bed occupancy rates – currently around 97 per cent - to 85pc and will allow it to meet Government NHS targets through to 2009 at least.

If the SHA board approves the plans, the extension could be up and running by April 2005.

In its report, the CRG states because of the cost of the scheme, the private finance initiative route for funding it should be explored.

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The proposed diagnostic, treatment and critical care centre will be a four-storey building consisting of:

? nine intensive care beds and eight high dependency beds – with room to expand to 22 beds.

? four theatres for day surgery with a recovery area and 30 trolley beds.

? 40 dedicated short stay beds.

These new facilities will allow existing resources to be used differently to provide:

? 72 emergency care beds.

? a temporary winter capacity ward with 16 beds.

? space to expand the Accident and Emergency department to allow faster treatment.

? a twin theatre cataract treatment centre.

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