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Public engagement to launch on plans to move hundreds of operations at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds to new Essex and Suffolk Elective Orthopaedic Centre at Colchester Hospital





Patients are being asked for their views on plans to move hundreds of operations from West Suffolk Hospital to a new facility in a neighbouring county.

About 60 per cent of orthopaedic elective surgical procedures - 1,300 to 1,500 per annum - at the Bury St Edmunds hospital could be performed at the new centre, due to open this year, at Colchester Hospital.

People across West Suffolk are being asked for their views on the Essex and Suffolk Elective Orthopaedic Centre (ESEOC), which would have eight theatres and three wards.

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds
West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds

The NHS is working with Healthwatch Suffolk to find out how the proposal would impact patients.

A six-week engagement exercise will be held between May 20 and June 30 to allow people to give their views, with a survey and several drop-in events.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board said the plans will increase capacity to treat patients needing procedures such as hip, knee, shoulder or ankle surgery.

A concept of The Essex and Suffolk Elective Orthopaedic Centre (ESEOC) at Colchester Hospital. Picture: East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust
A concept of The Essex and Suffolk Elective Orthopaedic Centre (ESEOC) at Colchester Hospital. Picture: East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust

When it opens later this year, ESEOC, based within the Dame Clare Marx Building on the Colchester Hospital site, will be a surgical hub that is ‘ring fenced’ so patients will not have their operations cancelled when hospitals face intense emergency pressures.

Philip Vaughan, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and deputy clinical director of surgery at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic led to unprecedented levels of disruption on elective hospital care across the country. Even without further Covid-19 surges, additional elective surgical capacity is required to reduce excessive waiting times for patients.

“There continue to be significant increases in waiting times for local patients to be treated, leaving many in continued discomfort or pain while they wait. If approved, this new hub will provide extra capacity to enable us to address this and treat our patients more efficiently.”

To take part in the survey, visit https://healthwatchsuffolk.co.uk/elective/To request a paper copy of the survey please email info@healthwatchsuffolk.co.uk or call 0800 448 8234.

Simon Morgan, associate director of communications at NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, said Healthwatch Suffolk will gather views and produce a report at the end of the engagement period.

The report will be presented to the board of directors at NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, which commissions local NHS services, for a final decision.”

As part of the engagement, several mini exhibitions will be held across West Suffolk allowing members of the public to learn more about the proposal and to speak to clinicians.

They will take place during the following times:

Saturday, June 8, 10am-noon, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3FD

Tuesday, June 11, 10am-noon, Newmarket Racing Centre, Fred Archer Way, Newmarket, CB8 8NT

Tuesday, June 11, 2.30pm-4.30pm, Innovation Centre, Croxton Rd, Thetford, IP24 1JD

Wednesday, June 12, 6-8pm, Haverhill Arts Centre, High Street, Haverhill, CB9 8AR

Thursday, June 13, 2-4pm, Kingfisher Leisure Centre, Station Road, Sudbury, CO10 2SU

Friday, June 14, 5pm-7pm, New Bury Community Centre, 1 Charles Pl, Bury St Edmunds, IP32 6TD

Tuesday, June 18, 10am-noon, Main Hall, St John’s Centre, St John’s Close, Mildenhall, IP28 7NX

Tuesday, June 25, 2pm-4pm, Brandon Leisure and Health Hub, Church Road, Brandon IP27 0JB

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: “We know that waiting for, say a hip operation, for an extended period of time can deeply affect people’s lives, and those of their loved ones.

“We therefore welcome the efforts of our NHS leaders in finding innovative and necessary solutions. Their decision to engage the public to have a say in how these plans are carried out, through an independent source, is the best possible approach.

“It is important that people take just a few moments to complete the Healthwatch Suffolk short anonymous feedback form when it is launched. This will enable us to assist NHS leaders in gaining a better understanding of how these plans may impact people’s lives across our local communities.

“Ultimately, we hope this will support the best possible decision-making about how people will more easily access and receive orthopaedic care in the future.”