Will Ipswich Hospital’s £2.5m urgent care centre bid be approved? Commissioners are warned of uncertainty

Ipswich Hospital. Photo by Phil Morley

Ipswich Hospital. Photo by Phil Morley - Credit: Archant

Health commissioners have been warned that the anticipated funding to support Suffolk’s largest A&E department may not become available.

Ipswich Hospital asked NHS England for £2.5million to build a new urgent care centre (UCC) last autumn to help ease the demands on its under-pressure A&E department.

It had been hoped that an announcement would have been made within a “few weeks” of the bid’s submission.

However, the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is supporting the hospital, reported this week that no offer had yet been made.

John Oates, the integrated care lead, told a meeting of the CCG’s governing body on Tuesday that NHS England had not been in contact.

“We may not get all of the money, if any,” he added.

A report presented to the meeting said that while work continued to develop what the UCC “could look like”, the anticipated savings would not be made this financial year.

Most Read

Meanwhile, the hospital has been trialling GPs working within A&E to support triage, over the challenging winter months.

If the funding is approved, a new triage system would be introduced, bringing an end to patients turning up at A&E to seek treatment.

Currently, around a quarter of all patients checking-in to A&E could be more appropriately treated by other departments.

Under the new system, other than those brought in by ambulance, patients would be expected to check-in at a triage centre where staff would direct them to the most appropriate department.

A hospital spokesman, speaking after the bid was submitted, said: “There’s a lot of research that shows having a busy emergency department leads to poorer patient outcomes.

“When we look at the most successful hospitals and the top- performing organisations in terms of quality care, they tend to follow this model.”

The UCC would be built either adjoining or next to the A&E department.

It would treat conditions such as sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns or animal bites, leaving the A&E department free to deal with only the most serious emergencies, such as severe bleeding, loss of consciousness or chest pains.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter