Funding boost for health services in Suffolk
- Credit: Archant
West Suffolk Hospital is to get £13m to redevelop its emergency department, while East of England Ambulance Service gets an £18m boost.
Hospital chief executive Dr Stephen Dunn described the cash boost for the hospital as an “early Christmas present for patients and staff” following the announcement by health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock yesterday.
And in another boost for health services in the region, East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) was handed £18m to help with infrastructure and capacity, just before what is expected to be another busy winter for the region’s health service.
The awards are part £1bn of health funding across England announced by Mr Hancock.
Dr Dunn said the funding will be used to upgrade the department and will help improve patient flow.
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It will also enhance and modernise the emergency department, separate ambulance arrivals from other patients needing major and minor services and reduce turnaround time for ambulances – meaning patients are treated faster.
Dr Dunn said the current emergency department at the hospital was no longer “fit for purpose”
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“This is fantastic news and much needed for our patients and staff,” he said.
“The current estate that our emergency department occupies is no longer fit for purpose.
“This money will help us improve our experience for patients, create a better working environment for our staff and help us avoid patients waiting longer than they need to.”
“I would like to pay tribute to all of our staff who continue to work tirelessly for the benefit of our patients, and I look forward to progressing with our exciting plans.”
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “I have been campaigning for three years for monies for a new emergency department, working closely with the hospital’s chief executive Stephen Dunn.
“This money will provide a huge benefit to patients and staff and I can’t wait for us to get on with the build.”
A total of 75 projects nationwide received the funding, with the aim to upgrade facilities so more people can be treated and more can be done to prevent ill-health in the first place.
The EEAST money will go towards improving or updating outdated bases and also taking vehicle maintenance in house.
The bases will also house EEAST’s new 24/7 make-ready service, which will see specialist teams work around the clock to clean and restock all vehicles to a consistently high standard.
This will free up operational staff from completing these tasks so that they can get back out to respond to patients more quickly.
The news comes as EEAST prepares to start work on the first phase of the make-ready project, which will see 10 sites upgraded.
Richard Kirk, head of make-ready services at EEAST, said: “Together with the £6.5m we have already received, it will help us create the infrastructure to phase in our 24/7 make-ready service, in turn ensuring there is always a fully-stocked, cleaned and checked vehicle ready for our crews to use. This will help them get back out on the roads to take life-saving help our patients as quickly as possible.”
Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer for Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning group (CCG), which is the lead commissioner of EEAST on behalf of 19 of the region’s CCGs, said: “There will be a real benefit to staff to get better quality facilities as well.
“Put together, it will mean crews get back on the road more quickly, which means that patients in the community will be seen more quickly.”
Announcing the funding, Mr Hancock, the health and social care secretary said: “We want even more patients to receive world-class care in world-class NHS facilities and this near billion-pound boost – one of the most substantial capital funding commitments ever made – means that the NHS can do just that for years to come.”