Surplus hospital land eyed for staff accommodation and patient care homes under merger

Nick Hulme is the chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals. Picture: ARCHANT

Nick Hulme is the chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Spare land at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals is being eyed for staff housing once they merge in a bid to tackle recruitment problems.

Spare land at Ipswich Hospital could be used to accommodate staff housing. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Spare land at Ipswich Hospital could be used to accommodate staff housing. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

The proposal is set out in the full business case for creating a joint organisation, which will go before board members to be rubber-stamped next Thursday.

The blueprint lays bare the stark staffing crisis facing both hospitals, with “long-term recruitment challenges” in several clinical areas.

At the end of 2017, Colchester had 504 vacancies, which is 11% of all posts, and Ipswich had 318 (7.3%).

In addition, the NHS has told trusts they must make a commitment to provide the same level of service seven days of the week.

Colchester and Ipswich hospitals will merge this summer if plans are approved. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Colchester and Ipswich hospitals will merge this summer if plans are approved. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ipswich and Colchester in their current position would both have to increase their workforce by 14% in order to meet this requirement.

Bosses say the hospitals can take crucial steps to recruit and retain medical staff if they merge.

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The full business case reveals hopes to redevelop disused land at both hospital sites into accommodation for trainees and qualified clinicians, as well as patient care homes.

The document reads: “Potentially both sites may have surplus land for either disposal or redevelopment.

“The disposal of land could produce a capital receipt for reinvestment, or redevelopment could provide residential care or intermediate care facilities or key worker and student accommodation amongst other options.

“Providing key worker accommodation in particular would improve recruitment and retention for key clinical staff from nurses through to consultants and other specialists.”

The hospitals, which together will form East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, also want to improve the offer for staff by creating a new faculty of education and training, with the ultimate ambition to become accredited to provide qualifications.

New staff roles will also be created to reflect modern health care needs.

The document says employees at both Ipswich and Colchester currently cite a lack of career progression and development opportunities as a reason for leaving.

If plans go ahead, the hospitals will merge this summer.

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