Ipswich Hospital bosses look to the future as they look at the best way to deal with new health challenges

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Archant

Boasting one of the best-performing emergency departments in the country, improving stroke care and a new state-of-the-art cancer centre due to open up next year, Ipswich Hospital is moving forward.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Archant

But bosses at the Heath Road trust are refusing to get complacent and are looking ahead to the challenges they will have to face in the coming years.

The hospital’s emergency department has come under severe pressure during the winter months with an increasing demand for services.

It has been the same story at health centres across the country and while Ipswich has continued to overcome the challenges it faces, hospital chief executive Nick Hulme has admitted there are still some major issues which need to be addressed.

He said: “We have an ageing population and there will come a point, if we have not reached it already, that we are unable to cope.

“I think we have been pretty close to that situation at several points during the winter.

“I don’t think we have quite got an understanding of the size of the problem across all parts of the system.

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“We have not got a health and social care system that is designed to care for a significant number of people living into their 90s and beyond. The NHS wasn’t designed for that so we need to re-design the system, it’s not just about more resources.”

Latest figures from NHS England has shown the hospital’s emergency department is in the top 10 for reaching the Government target of seeing, treating and admitting or discharging 95% of patients within four hours.

This requires the whole hospital to work together, from the workers on the ground, to those in the operations centre seeing what is happening from minute-to-minute, to others making sure beds are available.

Mr Hulme added that there are a number of problems within the system nationally that need to be addressed, or risk facing more serious problems next winter.

“We have got nine months to really start to fix some of these fundamental issues,” he said.

Hospital bosses are also looking closer to home as to where they can make improvements.

With the relatively new Garrett Anderson Centre and the cancer centre due to open up in 2016, things are physically changing on a site which has buildings dating back decades.

One possibility that is being mooted is to create a new hospital on the Heath Road site.

This is still very much in the planning stages but with many of the buildings ageing rapidly, hospital bosses are keen to consolidate quality services for patients, which could mean a new build.

Mr Hulme said: “What we have written is an outline business case.

“What could we do on this site if we were able to secure the funding?

“We have said there are a range of options to get every bit of the site up to the standard.

“It would cost in the region of £150million. That would allow us to move all the clinical care to the south side of the site.

“We can’t continue long term to run services (in those buildings). They won’t be fit for purpose.”

Mr Hulme will have been at the hospital for two years in April. There has been positive progress in that time but he is keen for that to continue.

Officials are under no illusion that there are challenging times ahead, but they are confident they can tackle them on, and with grand visions in mind for Heath Road, the future is looking bright.

Mr Hulme added: “We know we are a good hospital, we want to be a great hospital.”