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New operating theatres at Newmarket Hospital get go-ahead despite objections from neighbours



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Plans for two operating theatres and a 32-bed inpatient ward at Newmarket Hospital have been given the green light.

A planning application for the new development has been granted by West Suffolk planners, despite objections from neighbours.

Residents of White Lodge, the town’s former hospital building, which was converted into apartments and Heasman Close, wanted the new two-storey building to be on one of the two other alternative sites outlined in the original application.

Newmarket Hospital. Picture Mark Westley
Newmarket Hospital. Picture Mark Westley

They had raised concerns including over their privacy, noise pollution and the design of the proposed building.

But, according to a planning statement, it was essential the new building was connected to the X-ray department and close to the main parking area for hospital patients and the chosen site was the only one to meet that criteria.

West Suffolk Council’s conservation officer, who had no objection to the application, said the building’s design had been amended since the pre-application advice, with the mono-pitch roof being replaced by a flat one.

An aerial view of Newmarket Hospital where a new 32 bed unit with operating theatres is being planned
An aerial view of Newmarket Hospital where a new 32 bed unit with operating theatres is being planned

It will be the first time operating theatres will have been in action at the hospital since health chiefs made the decision to downgrade it 30 years ago.

There are currently no dedicated operating theatres at the site, meaning emergency and planned operations are sent either to West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, or Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, both half an hour away.

According to a planning statement, linked to the new development, a long term NHS plan had been in place since 2019 to increase facilities to reduce patient waiting times.

“This has been greatly exacerbated following the pandemic with even more patients unable to receive potentially life enriching surgeries and waiting lists being greatly extended for planned surgery,” it said.

It added that Newmarket Hospital having its own theatres, and recovery suites, would not only greatly benefit the local community and local patients but would also help other patients across Suffolk by relieving some of the pressure on the Bury St Edmunds hospital.