Multi-million pound hospital projects debated by MPs
PUBLISHED: 09:26 22 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:42 24 February 2020
New A&E developments and a proposed £44m orthopaedic centre project were up for debate during a ministerial visit to Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.
Edward Argar, who became health minister towards the end of last year, was joined by Ipswich MP Tom Hunt and Colchester MP Will Quince on Friday in their respective towns.
At Ipswich, where a new £25million A&E department is due to be built in 2022, Mr Argar met with nurses and doctors involved in children and young people's healthcare, recently rated 'outstanding' by the Care Quality Commission.
His attention was then turned to upcoming developments at the hospital, with Mr Hunt raising his concerns over this week's announcement on the new £44m orthopaedic centre project.
MORE: Colchester chosen over Ipswich for new hospital treatment centre
On Tuesday, it was announced hospital bosses would prefer to build the centre - largely for patients with planned hip and knee replacements - at Colchester rather than Ipswich.
Chief executive of the merged hospitals, Nick Hulme, said there was "no affordable option" at Ipswich.
Mr Hunt said: "It was very helpful for me to understand the (A&E) plans - I think the hope is to turn it into a better functioning system. At the moment the emergency department is not in the same building as the rest of the hospital and is a bit disconnected from everything but developing a new urgent treatment centre should solve some of the logistical issues. Work should begin in October.
He added: "I was also keen to share the concerns I have about the developments this week about the new orthopaedic centre and the preferred choice being Colchester.
MORE: First look at £25m plans for new Ipswich Hospital A&E
"There are big questions around transport to and from Colchester - particularly for those who have just had treatment.
"The main message of (my recent speech on the NHS funding bill) was that I see my role as a watchdog and I want to make sure that at all times Ipswich is benefitting from the merger.
"I think a lot of my constituents feel turning around Colchester Hospital has been the main priority.
"Obviously the orthopaedic centre being at Colchester isn't the final decision - that will be decided after the consultation."
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During his visit to Colchester Hospital, Mr Argar took a tour of the new entrance and urgent treatment centre before discussing the timeline for the orthopaedic centre.
New shops including big high street names such as Marks & Spencer and Costa have opened and the front entrance to the hospital completely revamped.
Mr Quince said: "It was great to show the minister around - he has been able to see some of the progress.
"It is brilliant news that the preferred option (for the orthopaedic centre) is Colchester for the centre but I want to bring forward the timescale a little bit.
MORE: Colchester Hospital opens brand new urgent treatment centre
"The actual build time is only 18 months but at the moment it's unlikely to be built until 2024."
Mr Quince said he would be making his case to the Department of Health to ensure a quicker turnaround.
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