TOM HUNT PROMISES TO ACT AS “WATCHDOG” TO ENSURE MERGER WORKS FOR IPSWICH IN SECOND SPEECH IN COMMONS
On Monday 27 January 2020, Tom Hunt, Member of Parliament for Ipswich, delivered his second speech in the House of Commons during the second reading of the NHS Funding Bill.
In the speech, Hunt underlined the importance of getting additional health funding for Ipswich. He noted that Clinical Commissioning Group funding is over £100 lower in Ipswich and East Suffolk and that: “the disparities between Ipswich and East Anglia and the rest of the country and real and often pronounced”. He specifically raised GP services, and how Ipswich’s GP-to-population is too high and that local residents say that they struggle to get an appointment when they need one.
Hunt also raised the recent inspection report on the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust which was formed following the merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals in July 2018. The report gave the Trust an overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ which Hunt said was “disappointing” but that direct comparisons with the last inspection in which Ipswich hospital was rated ‘good’ cannot be made because the latest inspection included Colchester.
Hunt also welcomed positive developments in local healthcare including the planned new £35 million A&E Department in Ipswich and the new orthopaedic centre which may be located in Ipswich or Colchester. Hunt stated that these “twin investments may not have happened had the merger into a single trust not taken place”.
Hunt said he would adopt a “watchdog role” to ensure that the merger benefits the people of Ipswich. He emphasised the importance of this with regard to the new orthopaedic centre and some local people’s concern that this may be eventually located in Colchester. If it is to be located in Colchester, Hunt said he would endeavour to ensure that Ipswich patients would only have to go to the centre for their main operations; appointments should be made in the closest hospital to them.
When it comes to the merger, Hunt said that: “Rather than there must be a situation in which one hospital drags another down, it must be the case that when two hospitals come together, the good one drags up the one that is struggling.”
Hunt also raised the approval process for NHS approval process for big NHS capital schemes, saying that it is “too archaic” and that the delays to the approval of the business case for the planned new A&E department at Ipswich Hospital cost the taxpayer £167,000. He called for efficient spending at every stage of healthcare provision.
The NHS Funding Bill will accelerate the NHS Long Term Plan, allowing the delivery of commitments such as: 40 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more doctors and 50 million more appointments in GP surgeries every year. The Bill underpins the biggest cash increase in the history of the NHS.
Following his speech, Tom Hunt said:
“I was glad I was able to give my second speech in Parliament on the important issue of NHS funding and our local healthcare services in Ipswich.
“In my maiden speech, I made clear that Ipswich and East Anglia get an unfair deal when it comes to funding and healthcare funding is no exception so it was good to go into this issue in more depth on Monday.
“While I think the merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals has the potential to add weight to our voice when it comes to calling for more investment, as may well have been the case in securing the new A&E Department in Ipswich and the new orthopaedic centre, it is important that the interests of Ipswich residents are put first in the merger.
“I will adopt a watchdog role when it comes to the merger to ensure that both Ipswich and Colchester hospitals improve together and that it’s not the case that the underperforming hospital drags the good hospital down. It will also be important to scrutinise the upcoming decision on the location of the new orthopaedic centre which some residents have been concerned about. If the orthopaedic centre is eventually located in Colchester, I will endeavour to ensure that Ipswich residents only have to go there for main operations. All other appointments must be made at the nearest possible hospital to where people live.
“I also called for the NHS capital schemes approval process to be made more efficient. It took a year for the business case for the new £35 million A and E Department at Ipswich Hospital to be approved when it should have only taken a matter of months, it’s thought that each monthly delay costed over the taxpayer over £160,000, this must be addressed.”