Used a question in the House today to welcome the £5.2 million investment in an new Molecular Lab for Ipswich Hospital which will allow our Hospital to keep increasing testing up to 3,000 Covid-19 tests a day by the end of March. (It was actually the Prime Minister who was planned to respond to my question today. But the Health Secretary had to step in at the last minute when his virtual connection to Parliament broke.)
The news of this investment was released to the Hospital on 11 November after I wrote to the Health Secretary on 29 October calling for this new lab to be approved. I had been informed by the Hospital that testing there was at capacity and the lab they were working in wasn’t appropriate for scale of the task, but their bid for this new Molecular Lab was essentially sitting on Ministers’ desks just waiting for final approval.
It’s crucial that Ipswich Hospital is where it needs to be on testing and it’s good we were able to get this investment into the Hospital where it’s needed. These tests will also be turned around in hours, rather than days as was the case at the start of the pandemic when all tests had to be analysed in Cambridge before being returned.
The new lab will also have long-term benefits for Ipswich residents as it will improve services for a wide range of effective diseases and cancer diagnosis.
I also raised the reports that NHS England are looking to use Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich as Suffolk’s first site for delivering vaccinations if and when a vaccine is approved. Increased testing and a safe and effective vaccine represent two crucial ways we can beat Covid-19. And it’s important that Ipswich is at the forefront of both issues for Ipswich residents as we hopefully move ever closer to defeating this virus.
I’ll be monitoring the roll out of any vaccine and increased testing in Ipswich exceptionally closely over the coming weeks and months, raising them at the highest levels and supporting our local NHS. And I’ll be looking very closely at everything the Prime Minister has said today about the restrictions after the end of the national lockdown and what they mean for Ipswich.
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.”
“I’ve had a busy few weeks meeting people across the Town. Two weeks ago I published my website outlining my five top priorities for Ipswich: 1. Fighting for improvements to transport infrastructure 2. Increasing opportunities for young people 3. Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour 4. The town center 5. Health services and Ipswich Hospital.