Supporters of a Suffolk community hospital are appealing for a new x-ray machine after the previous equipment was removed through old age.

Representatives of The League of Friends of Felixstowe Hospital, in Constable Road, feared the absence of a machine could lead to patients going to Ipswich Hospital instead, placing even more pressure on already overstretched services.

They have been meeting with diagnostics teams at Ipswich Hospital in the hope of persuading them to replace the machine, which costs about £300,000.

Friends’ chair Roy Gray said the previous equipment had not been used for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a lack of radiologists to operate it.

East Anglian Daily Times: Roy Gray, chairman of the League of Friends of Felixstowe HospitalRoy Gray, chairman of the League of Friends of Felixstowe Hospital (Image: Archant)

He added the x-ray machine was already old and needed replacing, but an ultrasound device that had been installed following the removal of the x-ray equipment was not an alternative.

Mr Gray said: “We are not happy and therefore we have asked for a meeting with Ipswich Hospital and a diagnostic expert to talk to us about the situation and why we can’t have an x-ray machine.

“With the building work that is going on in Felixstowe, it is going to increase the population growth and therefore we need an x-ray machine at the hospital.”

The League of Friends can provide some of the money towards the cost of the new equipment and Mr Gray said the current situation must be putting extra pressure on Ipswich Hospital because patients would be going there instead of Felixstowe.

“What we have said to Ipswich Hospital is that by not having an x-ray machine, it must put more pressure on the x-ray unit at Ipswich Hospital and that x-ray unit at Felixstowe was used four days a week,” Mr Gray added.

Neill Moloney, deputy chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs both hospitals, said: “Our diagnostics teams have continued to explore various options for a new digital x-ray machine, factoring in town planning and growth. We understand that an x-ray facility would require the use of this machine less than half a week based on the number of referrals.”

He added a review had been conducted into the different types of diagnostic tests needed and it was felt the new ultrasound service would bring the "greatest benefit to patients" and reduce the need to travel to Ipswich for a large number of people.

“We are meeting with the chair of the League of Friends of Felixstowe Hospital in the next few weeks to explore more options for investment in services at the hospital and would like to thank all the trustees of the League of Friends for their very generous support,” Mr Moloney said.