Trade union UNISON criticises ‘inadequate’ public consultation for planned merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals
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One of the UK’s largest trade unions has spoken out against the planned merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.
In a report published yesterday, UNISON, which represents more than 1.3 million members, said that the public consultation has left important questions unanswered.
The workers’ union is concerned that current debts and workforce vacancy rates leave a lot to be desired approaching the merging date on July 1.
The public have recently been invited to a series of public meetings to address questions and concerns about the merger, the last of which took place on February 22.
As well as reading the latest information, attendees were encouraged to share any thoughts they had about the merger, which will create the biggest NHS organisation in East Anglia.
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UNISON Eastern regional organiser Caroline Hennessy said: “It’s important that both the trusts engage with people who use the local services before signing off on the merger proposal. The local community needs to feel that their concerns are being listened to, and at the moment that’s not happening.
“UNISON’s real concern is that the outline business case leaves too many important questions unanswered or glossed over, leaving us with no certainty that the merged trust would have sufficient revenue or capital to maintain and improve services.
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“If the newly merged trust begin with a deficit of £33m, there will be no stability or security for local services in Colchester or Ipswich, and no security for staff.
“A business case is supposed to demonstrate how an organisation will be viable, financially and as an organisation. Sadly this case fails to convince on both counts.”
Proposals to merge Colchester Hospital and Ipswich Hospital are now being publicised with a series of road shows across North Essex and East Suffolk.
A hospital spokesman said: “Since the outline business case was published in August 2017, we have been actively talking with our staff, patients and more than 2,000 members of the public about our plans to merge.
“The full business case for our merger will be presented to our Boards for a final decision at the end of March. This will contain our long-term financial, clinical and corporate models which will outline our plans for developing a new organisation after merger.
“We regularly speak with our trade union representatives as we develop our plans to ensure that they are fully informed and that the concerns of our staff are taken on board and addressed.
“Members of the public can read the most up to date information about our plans and leave any of their own comments on our website at www.colchesteripswich.org.”