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17 August 2017, 07:08 | Updated: 17 August 2017, 07:13
Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals could soon become one under plans to merge and increase their partnership.
In an extraordinary meeting in public, both boards will consider the outline business case for developing the partnership. The case reviews options for taking the partnership forward and recommends forming a single combined organisation with fully integrated clinical services.
David White, Chairman of both Trusts said: "By thinking differently and working together we can change the way we deliver care and provide excellent services that are vital for the future of the communities we serve. Many patients, staff and supporters have helped us to get to this stage in our partnership and I am immensely grateful for their time and effort."
Nick Hulme, Chief Executive of both Trusts said: "I feel a strong sense of pride and commitment to a new future for both hospitals. It is a tremendous opportunity for us to change the way we do things, to be bold, innovative and imaginative in delivering the best possible healthcare to people who live in east Suffolk and north east Essex."
Over the last six months, staff, patients, clinical experts and health and local authority partners of both hospitals have been developing and evaluating the range of scenarios outlined in January in the strategic outline case for the partnership. They have recommended that a full integration into one trust would offer the biggest benefits for patients in future.
If they stay alone, as separate organisations, the Trusts will struggle to maintain the range of patient services they currently provide. Difficulties in attracting skilled staff, due to national shortages, mean that some services currently provided at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals could be moved to larger regional centres in London, Cambridge and Norwich.
By coming together in one organisation clinicians in both hospitals can make plans for how they will deliver services locally and offer better access, outcomes and experience to the communities they serve in north east Essex and east Suffolk.
The Chairman of Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Mark Shenton, who is a GP, said: "There are many real tangible benefits to patients and staff outlined in this new business case. It has been developed in partnership with clinicians, colleagues, staff and patients and I welcome its ambition to deliver high quality, compassionate care to everyone who is served by the hospitals."
Sam Hepplewhite, Accountable Officer for North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: "Our communities in north east Essex need healthcare services that are reliable, easy to access and very high quality. This case shows how a partnership of hospitals can help us to offer that level of care sustainably in the future."
Subject to the boards approving the case, the Trusts will go on to develop detailed plans for the combined organisation. A final decision to form a single organisation will then be taken by both Trust boards around June 2018. This decision will also require approval from regulators NHS Improvement and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The engagement the Trusts have undertaken with members of the public, supporters and staff will continue as plans are developed over the coming months.