Unions urge governors to rethink Ipswich and Colchester hospitals merger

Ipswich and Colchester hospitals are set to merge next month Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich and Colchester hospitals are set to merge next month Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Health unions are making a last-ditch attempt to slow down the merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.

A letter sent to governors at Colchester by unions representing staff claims financial problems facing the two trusts will not be resolved by the fusion, which is due to go ahead on July 1.

The group of unions, including UNISON, Royal College of Midwives, Managers in Partnership, and Society of Radiographers, have commissioned an independent review into the merger proposals.

They claim the blueprint does not set out adequate plans for patient travel arrangements on the “questionable assumption” that services will not be moved between the sites.

Regional organiser for UNISON, Caroline Hennessy, said: “Our fear is, because of the finances, sooner or later the new trust will be forced to take drastic action and cut or reconfigure services in order to balance the books.

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“We are asking the governors of Colchester Hospital to take these concerns seriously as this could have a big impact on patients and staff in Colchester, Ipswich and the surrounding areas who might see travel times increase in order to access health services.”

The unions have also criticised lack of consultation with staff and patents over the merger, and want to see the move postponed.

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A spokesman for the two hospitals said: “The merger is a great opportunity to save, strengthen and grow services for local people. Over the past two years, our plans have been regularly scrutinised by local councils, stakeholders and national NHS bodies.

“Since last August, we have held over 180 meetings with staff and the public, plus extra meetings with local union representatives.

“By working as a single NHS organisation, we will be in a much better position to see patients at the right time and attract the great staff we need.

“We work very closely with our staff and union representatives and will continue to do so in the future. This includes addressing any concerns they may have.”

The trusts that run both hospitals will form a single organisation called: East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

Bosses say no decisions have been made about moving services, but the only facilities guaranteed to remain at both hospitals are A&E, maternity and acute care.

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