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Operations could restart at Newmarket hospital 30 years after site was downgraded

Operating theatres could be re-opened at Newmarket Hospital – 30 years after health chiefs made the decision to downgrade it.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has submitted an application to build a new two-storey orthopaedic unit at the Exning Road hospital which would house two operating theatres and 32 inpatient beds as well as facilities for a reception, administration department, and staff.

According to a report included with the application: “There are not currently dedicated operating theatres at the Newmarket Hospital site, meaning emergency and planned operations are sent to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

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

“The requirement for Newmarket to have its own laminar flow theatres and recovery suites will greatly benefit the local community by giving a more local site to the immediate catchment and also benefit other Suffolk patients by relieving some of the pressure on the Bury St Edmunds site.”

The report also stressed the importance of Newmarket having such a facility because of its position as the headquarters of horse racing and that, in the event of accidents, those needing immediate surgery would not have to travel to Bury or Cambridge.

But the location of the new-build proposal has not been welcomed by residents of neighbouring White Lodge, the town’s former hospital which was converted into living accommodation, and Heasman Close, who would like to see it built on one of the two alternative sites outlined in the application.

Emma Bailey, who lives in White Lodge and is a spokesman for many of its residents, said: “There is an alternative site which they acknowledge would offer the hospital the same facilities and synergies as the proposed site. Why has this not been prioritised as it would have far less impact on residents?”

According to the planning report the preferred site had been selected because of its direct connection to the hospital’s radiography department and its close connection to the main building.

However, it did acknowledge the proposed building’s proximity to neighbours had to be considered.

Of the other two sites, one was deemed to be too far away from the radiography department and would mean the loss of a large number of staff parking spaces.

The third potential site would be mean the relocation of the building currently used by St John Ambulance for training which, according to the report, would not only cause inconvenience to the building’s users but also additional costs.

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