Frequently asked questions – public consultation

We will update this section with further frequently-asked questions that arise. If you have any further questions, you can email us at

The questions are grouped by theme.


WATCH ESNEFT Director of Strategy, Research and Innovation, Dr Shane Gordon, answer some frequently asked questions, HERE




Where will the new centre be located?

Our proposal is to build the new centre at Colchester Hospital. This proposal is subject to the outcome of this public consultation.

Building the centre at Colchester Hospital is our preferred option because:

  • The addition of at least 48 beds and up to six specialist operating theatres would free up existing beds and specialist theatres at both Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals. As a result it will also improve facilities and capacity for orthopaedic day surgery, spinal and emergency orthopaedic trauma surgery at both hospitals.
  • There is space available on the Colchester site with good access to other important clinical services. This option does not require us to move other facilities. This means that we can also complete the required replacement of the day surgery unit within the allocated budget.
  • The centralisation of planned orthopaedic surgery to Colchester would create much needed space at Ipswich Hospital. This clinical space would allow us to start to upgrade the environment for other services, over the next few years. This would also mean some services can be moved to be nearer to one another, allowing them to work more effectively.

In addition, travel to Colchester Hospital is easier for a greater number of our patients. This is because more than half of current planned orthopaedic surgery patients are served by Colchester Hospital. Predictions show there will be even more patients for this type of surgery living in the Colchester area over time. By 2041, the Colchester population is predicted to grow by around 17%, and the Ipswich population by around 9%. Colchester Hospital has better links to public transport, making it easier for patients, their family and carers to attend. Fewer people from our most deprived communities would be affected.

If you’ve already made the decision to place it at Colchester – what are the public really able to influence?

No decisions have been made at this stage. We have been allocated money to create a new single centre for orthopaedic surgery at ESNEFT and to replace the day surgery unit at Colchester hospital. After considering all the options, only the option at Colchester hospital would work within the money we have been given. We do want to hear your thoughts about the proposal, including any suggestions you may have. We are particularly interested in your thoughts and suggestions about travelling to the centre.

It’s important to understand that all outpatient appointments, scans, pre-surgical preparation and checks and post-surgery follow up would take place at the patient’s local hospital. Only the inpatient stay for surgery would be at the new centre.

All about the new centre

How many beds will the new centre have in it?

The centre would have a minimum of 48 beds, in a mixture of 4-bed bays and single rooms with en-suite facilities. These would all be built to latest NHS standards and would be large and spacious.

How many operating theatres will there be?

There would be at least five operating theatres in the new centre with space for an additional theatre as activity grows.

How will you make sure that the beds are protected for orthopaedic planned surgery only?

The only operations that take place in the centre would be for orthopaedic surgery. The only time the centre would ever be used for anything else would be in the event of a major incident when every area of clinical space matters.

Will there be any rehabilitation in the new centre eg physiotherapists and occupational therapists?

Yes. If a patient needed to see a therapist, then this would be provided in the new centre.

Will there be access to X-ray, CT and MRI scans in the new building?

This is still to be decided. Some x-ray facilities would be in the centre and other scans would be done in the adjacent existing facilities.

How long will patients stay in the new centre?

This depends of the patient’s needs and the procedure. The average length of stay is three to four days.


When will it open?

We are planning for the new centre to open in 2024.

How will you staff the new centre?

The centre would be staffed with a mixture of existing staff who already work in our hospitals, and some new staff where needed. We do not think it will be difficult to recruit staff to work in this excellent new centre.


How many patients will the unit see each day?

The new centre would see about 13 patients every day when it opens. Only about half of these (6 or 7 patients a day) would be travelling further for their operation.


What about discharge of patients who need extra help? Where will they go?

Patients who need a bit more help after their surgery would be supported according to their needs. They may stay a little longer in the centre, be moved to a bed in their local main hospital or community hospital eg Aldeburgh hospital if you live in north Suffolk. We expect that extra care would also be given to patients in their homes if needed.


Where on the Colchester site would the unit be?

The new centre would be near the old day surgery unit (Elmstead) at Colchester Hospital, to the left of the building as you face it.

Location of proposed orthopaedic surgery centre

Location of proposed orthopaedic surgery centre at Colchester Hospital


Travel and access to the new centre

Putting the new centre at either site would increase the distance travelled for surgery for around half of our patients. However, planned orthopaedic operations currently involve up to six visits to your local hospital before surgery. The new centre would only affect the patient’s stay in hospital for their operation. We are also working to simplify the process of preparing patients for surgery to reduce the overall number of journeys to hospital. This will reduce inconvenience for patients, their families and carers.

How will I get to the new centre?

Parking is available at Colchester Hospital. Patients and carers can also use the park and ride or the train. The train station is located one mile from the hospital, and there are frequent buses and taxis available. Patients who qualify for patient transport could use this. There are also lots of great community transport providers who help patients to access hospital services.

How will you support people to get to the new centre if they live in Suffolk?

Patients would only need to travel to Colchester for their operation. All other care before and after the operation would happen at Ipswich Hospital. This is exactly like travelling to a specialist centre for care like heart or eye care. We are interested in hearing from people about the ways in which we can assist people in Suffolk to getting to Colchester more easily.


What options are you making available to support people to travel to the centre?

We expect that this would be a key area of recommendations once we have done the consultation, and heard what you think. Your views will help us to develop our plans.

Are any concessions being made for people who find travelling difficult?

Patients using the new centre would be able to access the same parking and travel concessions that are already available to all our patients.

What happens if you live in north Suffolk?

Every patient can choose which hospital to have their treatment at, regardless of where they live. Some patients would choose to travel a bit further to have their care at the new centre. Other patients may choose to have their treatment at a different hospital which might be nearer to their home than Colchester.

Will later slots for surgery be available for people who live further away?

We would work with our patients to schedule their surgery at a time most convenient to them in the new centre.


What about staff getting to the new centre?

Some of our staff now travel between the Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals every day, and this is part of their role in the Trust. We would work with our staff nearer to the opening of the centre to decide how travel arrangements work best for the staff we need to be there

Will staff be moving up and down the A12 and how will this affect them? If there’s an emergency in Ipswich – will the doctors have to rush back there?

Most staff who work at the centre would work there all the time. But some staff would only come to the new centre on one or two days a week. If there is an emergency, there will be specialist cover available on site at all times.


Will there be dedicated parking for patients and visitors to the centre?

We don’t have very many areas of dedicated parking for patients at Colchester Hospital. This makes it fairer for everyone. There would be a dedicated drop off point in front of the new centre and a small number of disabled parking spaces near the new centre to make access easier.

Costs for the new centre

How much will the new building cost to build?

The new centre, along with replacement of the day surgery facilities at Colchester Hospital, would cost about £44 million in total to build.


How will you afford to pay for the running costs of this centre?

The running costs for the new centre are already being paid for because we are already doing this surgery at both hospitals. However, where there are extra costs due to increasing activity over time these would be funded through usual NHS arrangements.

What else can the new centre give us?

You say the centre will be used for education, research and innovation. How would that benefit patients?

By using the new centre for education, innovation and research, we would retain and attract the very best staff to work in it. We would train our next generation of highly skilled NHS workers. Research directly benefits patients who are involved, with clear evidence that outcomes are improved.

Research also helps the NHS to develop and improve the care that it offers and often involves early local access to the latest treatments such as robot assisted surgery. This is very good news for our patients, and makes sure that our hospitals and our orthopaedic services continue to thrive.

Will the new centre always be protected from cancellations?

Yes. At the moment we cancel about 30% of orthopaedic surgery and this figure can be much higher during the winter. This is not the level of service we want to offer to our patients. The reasons we cancel patients are varied. The majority of cancellations are because we need to provide the beds to emergency patients, and some patients will be cancelled because they are not fit enough on the day of surgery .The cancellation rate would be very much lower at the new centre.

The centre would be slightly separate from the main hospital building, and would used only for planned surgery patients. We can never say never because, during a major incident like a bus crash, the clinical space may be needed for a limited time. But for almost all of the time, it is very unlikely that surgery would be cancelled because a bed is not available. This would be a huge benefit of the new centre when compared to the current service on both sites. The significant reduction of cancellations means that there will be more of our capacity used to treat patients and reduce waiting times.

Will waiting times for surgery go down?

Yes! There would be far fewer cancellations which then have to be re-scheduled, so the waiting times for surgery would reduce for everyone.

The new centre would also allow us to free up space in Ipswich Hospital for our patients. This means you are likely to be treated more quickly if you accidently break your hip or your leg.

Will I see the same Consultant all the way through my treatment?

Yes! Unless the Consultant is away or it is more clinically appropriate for you to see another surgeon

Will infection rates improve?

Our infection rates are already very low at both hospital sites. The new facilities would help us to continue to provide the best care with very low infection rates.

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