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Patients will have choice to attend Ipswich or Colchester hospital for quicker care after merger

PUBLISHED: 18:56 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:57 13 February 2018

Dr Shane Gordon, director of integration, gives a presentation on the Ipswich and Colchester merger.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dr Shane Gordon, director of integration, gives a presentation on the Ipswich and Colchester merger. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Patients at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals will be able to choose where they receive care when the trusts merge, it has been revealed.

Members of the public learn more about the Ipswich and Colchester merger during an event in Felixstowe.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMembers of the public learn more about the Ipswich and Colchester merger during an event in Felixstowe. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dr Shane Gordon announced during a public meeting in Felixstowe today that patients will have the option to travel to their non-local hospital if they can be seen sooner.

He said: “If you need a test like a scan or an x-ray we can tell you what the waiting time is at the two hospitals and you can choose whether your preference is to have it more locally or more quickly.”

Dr Gordon said in order to merge Colchester would technically have to acquire Ipswich.

This is because of Colchester’s status as a foundation trust, which Ipswich unsuccessfully applied for around a decade ago.

However, Dr Gordon assured the joint trust would be a partnership of equals: “Although it’s Colchester Foundation Trust doing the acquiring, it actually becomes a new organisation with a new constitution that represents the new area.”

Following a question from a councillor in the audience, Dr Gordon said there were no plans to close Felixstowe Community Hospital.

In actual fact, Dr Gordon said there were hopes to increase the range of services offered in community settings.

After reaffirming that both sites would retain A&E and maternity services as well as 24-hour acute medical admissions, Dr Gordon said there were some services the hospitals were at risk of losing if they did not merge.

These include care for some of the less common types of cancers due to a lack of specialists.

Leaders hope the merger will mean the hospitals can provide certain cardiology services that patients currently have to travel to either Papworth or Basildon for.

Dr Gordon also insinuated that the hospitals’ foot and ankle care teams would blend because the only specialist in this area for Colchester Hospital recently died.

He added: “There are several services we think we can extend the scope in a way we can’t do if we are separate.”

The favoured named for the merged trust is East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, said Dr Gordon, who is director of clinical integration at Colchester.

If the final business case is approved, the trusts are expected to start working as one organisation this July.

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