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.
I have been written to by the Health Secretary to inform me that just under £200 million will be written off Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals Trust debt. This is good news for Ipswich Hospital.These are unprecedented times and the pressure on resources at our Hospital has never been greater therefore this is a very welcome move by the Government. The sole focus for the leadership at the Trust should be on saving lives and hopefully this move by the Government will give them the confidence to take whatever steps they need to take to save lives without having to worry about the financial sustainability of the Trust in the medium to long term. These are not normal times and I think this was the correct decision for the Government to take. NHS workers at our Hospital continue to preform heroic deeds day in day out at the moment and I was pleased to also be informed today that there has been a big increase in ICU capacity at the Hospital.
Tom Hunt MP – “I am disappointed that the public consultation launched today indicates that the new Orthopaedic Centre for elective surgeries will not be based in Ipswich. Since the merger with Colchester Hospital there have been some positive developments; most notably that a brand new £35 million state of the art Accident and Emergency department will open its doors to Ipswich residents in 2022.
In my second speech in Parliament, I made it clear that I would take on a “watchdog” role to ensure that Ipswich benefits as much as possible from the merger with Colchester Hospital. I said that if it’s the case that the Orthopaedic centre is based in Colchester then it’s imperative that there is not a negative impact on Ipswich. Our hospital currently has a first class reputation and service when it comes to orthopaedic surgery. However, I do have concerns that the proposed changes could negatively impact the quality of this work; concerns which need to be addressed during the consultation.
I appreciate that assurances have been made that all appointments for Ipswich residents, other than the actual surgery, will take place at Ipswich Hospital and that any emergency surgery will continue to take place at Ipswich Hospital too. What is unclear is how the immediate post-operative care at Colchester Hospital will differ to the experience that patients have currently.
The reality is that many people in Ipswich are worried that the merger with Colchester Hospital could start to negatively affect our hospital. It is imperative that first class surgeons continue to choose Ipswich Hospital as a place they want to be based. It is early days when it comes to fully assessing the merger of Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals although there have clearly been some teething problems.
Following my speech in Parliament I have held discussions with a Health Minister and have invited him to meet me in Ipswich to discuss these matters.
When it comes to the interests of Ipswich residents, I will always speak directly to make sure we get the support and services that people expect. I know how important our hospital is for the town and I will do everything as the MP to support it. The Government is well aware of my determination on this issue and I look forward to welcoming the minister to Ipswich very soon.”
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.”