Plans to create a state-of-the-art elective care centre (ECC) in Colchester for patients who need planned orthopaedic surgery such as hip and knee replacements have today been given the green light.
The governing bodies of Ipswich and East Suffolk and North East Essex clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) approved the proposal, which was drawn up by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), during an extraordinary public meeting held virtually this lunchtime.
The decision means the £44 million centre will be built on the Colchester Hospital site in Turner Road and open by 2024/25. Its benefit will include:
- fewer cancelled operations, as beds will be protected for planned orthopaedic surgery
- shorter waiting times for surgery
- new ways of working, helping to retain existing staff and attract new talent to ESNEFT
- increased capacity to treat all local people into the future
- a better experience for patients and carers.
The centre will have at least 48 inpatient beds and up to six specialist operating theatres. Every patient will stay at the centre while having their surgery, while all other care before and after the operation – such as x-rays, pre-assessments and physiotherapy – will be provided at either Colchester or Ipswich hospital, depending on which is closest to their home. Emergency orthopaedic surgery will also continue at the patient’s nearest hospital.
As part of the project, a replacement day surgery unit will also be created at Colchester Hospital.
Nick Hulme, ESNEFT chief executive, said: “We are absolutely delighted that these exciting plans have been approved today. We will now be able to develop first-class facilities to match the first-class clinical care which our patients who need hip or knee surgery receive.
“The new orthopaedic centre will benefit thousands of patients every year by increasing capacity and helping to reduce waiting times, which means people will not be left in pain for longer than is absolutely necessary. This will be vitally important as our population – and particularly our ageing population – continues to grow, and demand for hip and knee surgery increases.
“Protecting beds at the centre will also mean fewer cancellations, in turn improving the experience which people have when receiving care.
“While we appreciate that some people may have concerns about travelling to the centre, we would stress that only their surgery will take place at the centre, with all other care both before and after arranged at their local hospital. At the same time, we are continuing to work closely with our commissioners, councils and Healthwatch representatives as part of a travel working group, which has been specifically set up to advise on access to a range of health and wellbeing services, including the new centre.”
“Today I will be offering to meet with Mr Hunt MP and Mr Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, to discuss how we can work together now to address the concerns they raised following the public consultation as we start to draw up detailed plans for the centre.”
Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive Ipswich & East Suffolk CCG, North East Essex CCG & West Suffolk CCG, said: “The effectiveness of Suffolk & North East Essex Integrated Care System as a health and social care system has been recognised nationally in 2018 through the award of capital development funding of £69.3m for our ‘Building for Better Care’ programme.
“This new centre is a vital part of the ongoing transformation of health and social care across our Integrated Care System, following the successful merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, and will help us to deliver sustainable hospital-based services for the future.”
The centre is being developed as part of a raft of improvements taking place at both ESNEFT sites. This includes the recently completed urgent treatment centre, Cancer Wellbeing Centre and The Collingwood Centre for cancer care, as well as a revamped front entrance at Colchester.
In Ipswich, a new £35m emergency department and urgent treatment centre has been granted planning permission, with construction beginning in the autumn. A new breast care centre, a redevelopment of the children’s centre and relocation of dermatology, dietetics and neurophysiology from the Victorian north end of the hospital site are also due to take place over the coming years.