A STATE-of-the-art elective surgery centre is set to be built at Colchester Hospital as part of £44 million investment in the healthcare facility - the biggest in decades.

The East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, has decided the town is its “only option” for a new orthopaedic surgery centre which will service both Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.

The development will also bring about a complete rebuild of the day surgery unit at Colchester Hospital.

Together this will cost £44 million with money coming from the Government as part of a record £69.3 million investment programme.

The new centre will be built near to Elmstead ward and have 48 inpatient beds. An access point and parking could be constructed off Northern Approach Road.

Once complete in 2024, patients from Colchester, Tendring, Ipswich and east Suffolk will visit the hospital for for all orthopaedic operations such as hip replacements.

This is expected to be 13 patients a day. Before and after care will take place at residents’ nearest hospital.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the hospital trust, said: “After working with patients, carers, staff and community groups to look carefully at where the new centre could be located, it quickly became clear Colchester was the only option.

“This is because there is no affordable option at Ipswich Hospital, while building away from either hospital, such as at the Copdock roundabout, would not give outpatients the rapid access they may need to other important clinical services such as diagnostics and intensive care.

“In addition, Colchester also has good public transport links, while developing the centre at Turner Road would also release much-needed clinical space at Ipswich so we can move other services into a better quality environment which will help them work more effectively.”

Colchester has also been chosen as the preferred location due to planned population growth and the older demographic of the population in north Essex.

Through to 2041, the trust expects population to grow 17 per cent in Colchester, compared to nine per cent in Ipswich.

Halstead Gazette: Chief executive Nick Hulme says the new orthopaedic centre will be a big assest for the trustChief executive Nick Hulme says the new orthopaedic centre will be a big assest for the trust

Mr Hulme added: “We cancel up to 20 per cent of elective orthopaedic work due to operational pressure. In winter this number can go as high as 80 per cent. By creating the new centre and protecting the beds we will be in a position where we will only have to cancel operations when there is a clinical need to do so.

“This proposal gives us an exciting opportunity to further develop our services so we can continue providing first class care and the best possible experience for everyone living in east Suffolk and north east Essex.”

A consultation, after which a final decision will be made, runs to April 1. Visit esneft.nhs.net.uk/publicconsultation or email hello@esneft.nhs.uk.