23/07/2019 | Announcements

Building for better care

Nick Hulme, Chief Executive of one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, has been setting out ambitions for the future and in particular a building for better care programme.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a significant investment in the health and wellbeing of the people in our area” he said.

“In the spring of 2018, our organisation was awarded £69.3m in support of the merger of Colchester and Ipswich hospital trusts to fund infrastructure improvements.

“In our plans for merger we committed that wherever we anticipated making significant changes to the way we deliver services, we would work with our patients and the public and, if necessary, conduct formal public consultation.

“We have spent this year developing our five-year strategy and plans to use this money to provide significant benefits to our patients, their families and carers. Our strategy outlines developments in both urgent and emergency care and also the reconfiguration of elective clinical services, which is where we expect to spend the bulk of the £69.3m,” Mr Hulme added.

The first stage of the programme is a proposal to build an urgent treatment centre (UTC) to transform and improve services for patients while easing pressure on the emergency department (ED) at Ipswich Hospital.


The new centre will offer treatment for a range of urgent but not life-threatening conditions, in turn freeing up the ED to focus on providing care for the most critically ill and seriously injured patients.

It will be built alongside a new ED, simplifying services by providing a single front door which all urgent and emergency patients will use before they are triaged by clinical staff and directed to either the UTC or ED, depending on which service will best meet their needs.

Patients who cannot be treated safely in the UTC will pass through into the co-located ED, making sure the right clinical teams are available to provide care without delay. Those brought in by ambulance will continue to go straight to the ED.

The development will cater for an estimated 50,000 patients who arrive at the ED each year with conditions which could be safely managed elsewhere, such as sprains, fever and vomiting. It will reduce the amount of time they need to wait for treatment, in turn improving their experience of accessing care.

Patients should continue to use existing services, such as their local pharmacy, NHS 111 and their GP, for help with minor or routine problems.

The hospital’s transformation clinical lead Dr David Hodgkinson said: “This is an exciting opportunity to properly integrate urgent and emergency care services across our wider healthcare system whilst protecting specialist emergency services for the critically ill and injured.

“The new build and redesigned set of services will provide long-term sustainable solutions, delivered by fully integrated working from skilled clinicians across the whole health and social care system.”

If the planning application is approved, work on the two-storey building – which will also house a new MRI and CT scanner – would begin next year.

Work is already taking place at Colchester Hospital to modernise the main entrance, in turn paving the way for an expansion of the emergency department (ED) and the creation of a new UTC centre, which will replace the nearby walk-in centre.

The Trust is also planning to build a single orthopaedic elective care centre, located either at Colchester or Ipswich hospital. This development will require a public consultation which we expect will run in early 2020.

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