'Why we had to speak out on hospital'

CONSULTANTS at Ipswich Hospital have joined together to speak out against health bosses in an open letter made public today.

Rebecca Lefort

CONSULTANTS at Ipswich Hospital have joined together to speak out against health bosses in an open letter made public today.

The letter, described as “momentous” by the consultant who spearheaded the campaign to collect 105 signatures, reveals a deep sense of worry about the hospital's future.

In it the consultants say they are “increasingly concerned at the current and future plans for gradual loss of specialist services from this hospital” and add “we would like to express our growing lack of confidence in the decision making processes upon which these service changes are being made”.

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The chairman of the consultant medical staff committee and consultant rheumatologist, Richard Watts, who co-ordinated the letter, said he hoped the letter's demand for health bosses to produce a 10-year plan for the hospital would be fulfilled as soon as possible.

“This does feel momentous because it is the first time for many, many years, if ever, that the consultant body has united behind such a move,” he said.

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“The vast majority of the consultants are in support of the move and from my conversations with other staff they also share similar concerns.”

Dr Watts said consultants were still adding their names to the letter, but said he could not release a list of those that had signed so far.

He added: “We viewed it was our duty to speak out on behalf of our patients.

“Patients, particularly in services that are being re-organised, do have huge concerns about what is happening to the hospital.

“Our message to the patients is that we share their concerns and we wish to work with them and the hospital management to have the best possible hospital.”

Andrew Reed, the chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, said he fully understood why so many consultants have decided to speak out about their concerns.

Last week, Mr Reed said himself that he feared the removal of pancreatic cancer surgery from the hospital would have a negative impact on the Heath Road site.

Now he has pledged to listen to his doctors and promised that the hospital would set out its vision for its future within the next few months.

“We've got a group of really outstanding consultants at the hospital,” he said.

“They are expressing concerns that are shared on a widespread basis by the staff and the community.

“What they are representing is a level of anxiety in the hospital which is extremely strong.

“What we now need is a clear, specific, 10-year strategy and I think that responsibility lies in part with Ipswich Hospital.

“The NHS locally also needs to be much more specific about the services that Ipswich Hospital will retain in the future. That work is going on at the moment and perhaps this letter will accelerate that.”

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