This is very bad news for Suffolk and Ipswich. The first I knew of this was reading the news story on the Ipswich Star website. I am currently looking into the matter will establish the full facts. I have just come off the phone with the Leader of Suffolk County Council and I am keen to ensure that as far as possible everyone who was receiving support from Age UK Suffolk doesn’t lose out here.
I knew there were challenges which is why I chose to fundraise for them but today’s development has come as a real shock. It’s been a difficult week for Ipswich.
Tom Hunt ‘disappointed’ government won’t formally intervene in Ipswich Hospital orthopaedic centre move
This week I again wrote about the campaign to prevent elective orthopaedic services being transferred from Ipswich Hospital to a new centre in Colchester. A decision will be made on Tuesday by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and I have further meetings scheduled with some of those central to the decision making process. Operationally the local Hospitals Trust and CCG are very much in the driving seat when it comes to the way in which our local health services are organised and though Government intervention wouldn’t be without precedent it seems that on this occasion it won’t be forthcoming. It became clear during the adjournment debate last week that this has been something that has been in the pipeline for a number of years and though I have done everything within my power as the local MP to stop it I was coming to the party at a late stage. Over the past few weeks I have secured a Parliamentary debate on the topic, raised on two further occasions in the House of Commons Chamber, have tabled a number of written Parliamentary questions and have written a number of cross Party letters to the local CCG Chair with the leader of Ipswich Borough Council. As I say in my column, I’m really not sure what further steps I can take other than carry out the further meetings I have planned ahead of the decision being made on Tuesday. Public opposition could not have been any clearer with nearly 10,000 signing the petition opposing it and the public consultation demonstrating clear opposition to the plans.
I was hopeful that the local Hospitals Trust and the local CCG would listen to the public opposition and take into consideration the very strong arguments opposing the proposals and it still be that they might and I won’t be giving up before Tuesday but the honest answer is sadly that I’m not overly hopeful.
I will post again post the decision to outline clearly what steps I will take going forward. To date I haven’t been satisfied by how this has been handled by the local NHS management and I’m glad to see some news coverage that suggests there could be some reform to the system to ensure that the views of local people and local elected representatives is taken more into account than currently.
Yesterday evening was my adjournment debate on orthopaedic services at Ipswich Hospital. And I called on the Health Minister to carefully look into the plans to move elective orthopaedic surgery away from Ipswich Hospital to a new centre in Colchester and meet with me again to discuss my concerns ahead of the decision on the plans on July 14th.
Public opposition to what can only be described as a downgrade to our hospital is overwhelming, and frankly the local NHS management have had their head stuck in the sand when they haven’t been openly dismissing the public’s concerns. It was therefore only appropriate to raise as many of these concerns as I could in the House yesterday evening and bring them publicly to the Government’s attention.
I said when I stood for election that I would always fight with everything I had for Ipswich’s interests and the campaign to keep elective orthopaedic surgery at Ipswich Hospital doesn’t end here. Waiting times and cancellations to planned hip and knee replacement must be tackled, but in a way which keep services local to the people who need them. And I’ll continue to fight these plans at every opportunity locally and in Parliament, and make the case for new ones where neither Ipswich nor Colchester has to lose out.
Some good news! Yesterday I was informed that I’ve been successful in securing an adjournment debate on this issue for this coming Tuesday. This will be a special debate about orthopaedic services at Ipswich Hospital at the end of the days sitting in Parliament that will take place in the House of Commons Chamber. The relevant Government Minister will be in attendance throughout as well as other MPs. This is a significant development and will enable me to go into great detail about all the various reasons why the proposal to strip Ipswich Hospital of its elective Orthopaedic services should not go ahead. This represents the best opportunity head to outline our case. I will provide more details over the coming days.
I’ve been contacted by the leadership of the Hospitals Trust asking me to share with them some of the messages I’ve received from constituents opposing the removal of elective orthopaedics from Ipswich Hospital and the creation of a new orthopaedic centre in Colchester. I hope none of you mind but I printed off some of the comments that have been made on my page just to give them a flavour.
They say the reason they want to see these comments is so they can address my constituents concerns. As you will see from the letter below the only way these concerns can be addressed is by the plans being 100% taken off the table!! In a matter of days almost 7,000 of you have signed the petition opposing the plans, I think there is a high chance this could be over 10,000 come the weekend.
There was a debate in Parliament today on a petition about recognition for our NHS Staff and their exceptional efforts during Covid-19. Many have written into me calling for them to be recognised and it was a privilege to use this moment in the chamber to thank our local NHS and social care workers on behalf of our whole town.
As well as recognising our NHS and care staff I was also able to thank in the House the pupils and staff at Ipswich School and Northgate Highschool who made thousands of pieces of PPE for our local frontline NHS staff, and the landlord of the Lattice Bar Pub in Ipswich who opened his doors to NHS staff even when the pub faced significant challenges of its own due to Covid.
Many have also been in touch calling for frontline NHS and care staffs’ pay to be increased. I do think it is important that the Government recognises the strength of feeling around this issue in the country and gives this careful consideration at the earliest opportunity.
Following my speech in Parliament yesterday on the proposals to remove elective orthopaedic surgery from Ipswich Hospital, I raised the matter again today by calling for Parliament to have a full debate on the matter.
I won’t stop raising this issue and how I believe it would be detrimental to many people in Ipswich to move hip and knee surgery further away from them to a centre in Colchester. This issue deserves national attention and I’ll keep knocking on the doors of power to get this recognised.
The local Clinical Commissioning Group is expected to make a final decision on the proposals on 14th July and it’s urgent the voice of the overwhelming majority of people in Ipswich is fully heard before that decision is made.
Following my joint letter with Cllr Ellesmere earlier this week, in Parliament yesterday I raised again how I strongly believe the plans to transfer elective orthopaedic surgery from Ipswich Hospital to a new centre in Colchester are not in the interests of the people of Ipswich. I asked Ministers to meet with me to discuss in detail my concerns and those of many Ipswich residents.
Around 700,000 orthopaedic patients have had their surgery postponed across the country due to Covid-19, and I built on our letter by stressing how important it is not to move key orthopaedic services away from people in Ipswich when we face this unprecedented national challenge. The people of Ipswich and Colchester both deserve first-rate hospitals to take on the challenges ahead and top quality care close to where they live. Stripping one hospital of what can only be described as core services at this time would be a fundamental step in the wrong direction.
I’ll continue to raise this issue at every opportunity in Parliament to urge Ministers to consider intervening and to call for the money currently earmarked for the proposed orthopaedic centre to be spent equally between Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals so the number of delays and cancellations to hip and knee surgery can be cut in both towns.
It was also a privilege to use this moment in the Chamber to thank our local NHS staff and social care workers in Ipswich for all they have done over recent months. And I also raised the importance of tackling the mental health challenges caused by Covid. The mental health impact of the virus will be with us for a lot longer than the virus itself and we must be ready to address this issue over the long-term.
Further to my recent interventions on the issue, today I sent a joint letter with Cllr David Ellesmere (Ipswich Borough Council, Leader) to the Chair of Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group. They will make a decision next month on whether or not the proposal to transfer elective Orthopaedic services from Ipswich Hospital to a new centre in Colchester will go ahead. I think if ever there was a time to put Party politics to one side this is it. Essentially as the two most senior elected representatives in Ipswich we have both come to the same conclusion. That conclusion is that what is proposed is bad for our Hospital and not in the interests of the people we represent.
When I was elected I said as the local MP I would fight for our local Hospital and not be afraid to take stands that I believe to be in the best interests of my constituents, even against considerable resistance. To be honest the only people whose views I really care about are those of my constituents. I trust that most of you will believe that I am doing the right thing.
Last night I received this letter from the Prime Minister and I thought I would share it with you all. More details will continue to come out over the next couple of days and today the Prime Minister will make a statement in Parliament setting out in more detail what was explained in his statement to the nation last night. As more information becomes public I will of course post it as soon as possible letting you know how we as a country are starting to move forward with our fight against COVID-19.