Proposed Ipswich Hospital orthopaedic move to be debated in parliament
PUBLISHED: 15:37 03 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:39 03 July 2020
Controversial proposals to move hip and knee surgery away from Ipswich Hospital will now be subject to their own debate in parliament.
The adjournment debate comes after Ipswich MP Tom Hunt brought the issue to the House of Commons and wrote a joint letter with Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere to Dr Ed Garratt, chief of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group.
As part of the plans, surgical procedures would instead take place in Colchester, although all pre-op and post-op appointments would still happen at Ipswich if it is the patient’s nearest hospital.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which operates both hospitals, argues the move is in the interest of improving waiting times. Waiting times at the hospital have deteriorated in the last five years and it is understood the issue was raised with bosses in 2015.
A letter by Dr Garratt and ESNEFT chief executive Nick Hulme to this newspaper reads: “While the care we provide for hip and knee patients at both Ipswich and Colchester hospitals is very good, too many people are waiting an unacceptably long time in pain to receive that care.
“We are very proud of Ipswich Hospital and the excellent work it does. We are committed to its future as a centre for high quality health care and we are making significant investment in its buildings and services over the next few years.”
However, writing to Dr Garratt for the second time, Mr Hunt and Mr Ellesmere raised concerns that the plans would lead to the quality of care being diminished.
They argue a two-site option for improving care has not been fully explored.
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They also argue five proposed new operating theatres would simply replace existing suites and require “urgent” clarity on how these will meet the capacity challenges.
They wrote: “This is concerning given that the current plans would represent a downgrade to Ipswich Hospital’s core services and the removal of these services further away from the patients who need them.
“A comprehensive plan for Ipswich patients’ access to Colchester should be fully developed before any final decision is made on moving services further away from them.
“It is unacceptable that Ipswich patients, including some of the most vulnerable, are left without such certainty before a key decision is made on their local healthcare. Many patients cannot necessarily rely on friends and family to take them both ways to Colchester, and a detailed plan should be in place for them.”
A petition calling for the hospital’s orthopaedic services to be protected has so far gained more than 7,500 signatures. The pair claim nine out of 12 surgeons who deliver non-spinal elective and emergency orthopaedic care at Ipswich Hospital oppose the plans.
In their letter to this newspaper, Mr Hulme and Dr Garratt write they are concerned the petition is causing “unnecessary concern and fear”.
They stress emergency operations, such as those for fractured hips and broken legs, will remain at the hospital, as well as for smaller operations such as hand and wrist surgery.
The fracture clinic will also remain at the hospital, alongside the spinal surgery centre.
Speaking after securing the adjournment debate – which will see him deliver a speech to a health minister on July 7 – Mr Hunt said: “I will be marshalling all the key arguments in time for next Tuesday.
“I am well aware of the responsibility on my shoulders and that I will be fighting on behalf of thousands of my constituents who have significant concerns about what is being proposed and the 7,500 people who have signed the petition opposing the move.”
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