Mixed reaction over 60-mile round trip for surgeries

Artist's impression of the hospital buildingImage source, Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board
Image caption,

The Essex and Suffolk Elective Orthopaedic Centre is set to open in Colchester later this year

  • Published

A plan to relocate orthopaedic operations for adults by at least 30 miles (42km) has received mixed responses, the NHS has said.

Under proposals, patients at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds would instead need to travel to the new £64m orthopaedic centre at Colchester Hospital for surgery.

People raised concerns about travel as part of a consultation, health managers have said.

But others welcomed the prospect of reduced waiting times and treatment at a specialist centre.

“Having received this number of responses so far, [it] indicates this is an important issue for many," said Simon Morgan, associate director of communications at the NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB).


The ICB has proposed moving about 55% of elective orthopaedic surgery from Bury St Edmunds.

Directors estimate that about 1,500 people a year will travel to the new Essex and Suffolk Elective Orthopaedic Centre in Colchester - also called the Dame Clare Marx Building.

Officials have already decided that people from the Ipswich area and parts of Essex will be treated at the centre - but they want feedback regarding West Suffolk patients.

They began an "engagement exercise" on 20 May and people have until 30 June to respond.

Image source, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust
Image caption,

The NHS says the theatres in Colchester will enable space for increasingly complex equipment needed for orthopaedic operations

Officials say the centre will be one of the largest of its kind in Europe when it opens late this year.

Moving some operations to the centre would increase capacity and "enable" speedier treatment for people needing hip, knee, ankle and shoulder surgery, the ICB said.

The remaining mini exhibition events are scheduled for:

  • Wednesday 12 June, 18:00-20:00 BST, Haverhill Arts Centre, High Street, Haverhill CB9 8AR

  • Thursday 13 June, 14:00-16:00, Kingfisher Leisure Centre, Station Road, Sudbury CO10 2SU

  • Friday 14 June, 17:00-19:00, New Bury Community Centre, 1 Charles Pl, Bury St Edmunds IP32 6TD

  • Tuesday 18 June, 10:00-12:00, Main Hall, St John’s Centre, St John’s Close, Mildenhall IP28 7NX

  • Tuesday 25 June, 14:00-16:00, Brandon Leisure and Health Hub, Church Road, Brandon IP27 0JB

Detail on the plans can be read online, external. Patients can also request a hard copy feedback form by calling Healthwatch Suffolk on 0800 448 8234.

Image source, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust
Image caption,

Nick Hulme, the NHS trust's chief executive (pictured far left outside the centre), says the centre will be one of the "biggest single orthopaedic services in the country"

Mr Morgan said there had been nearly 1,200 responses so far.

He told the BBC: "We have had some positive feedback. A lot of people welcome the idea of having shorter waiting times and being treated at a specialist centre.

"Some people are worried about transport issues, about getting to the new centre, especially for people who live in more rural areas."

Officials would analyse responses and try to cater for problems, he said.

He also said operations would still be performed at West Suffolk Hospital if travel proved impossible.

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