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.
If you agree with me and believe that elective orthopaedic services should not be relocated from Ipswich Hospital to a new centre in Colchester then please sign this petition.
Well done to Orwell Ahead for establishing it, almost 4,000 have already signed it. PLEASE SIGN HERE:
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.
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.”