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New health campus plan for hospital

PUBLISHED: 10:32 30 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:15 07 July 2010

Health chiefs have revealed long-term plans to replace an acute hospital in Suffolk, just days after announcing an almost £3m investment in new facilities.

Health chiefs have revealed long-term plans to replace an acute hospital in Suffolk, just days after announcing an almost £3m investment in new facilities.

The West Suffolk Hospital was the first of a new breed of “best buy” compact designed hospitals when it was built on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds 35 years ago.

But bosses at the 480-bed facility, which serves 275,000 patients, have revealed that they are planning to construct a new “healthcare campus” in the town.

Chris Bown, chief executive of the West Suffolk told the NHS Trust's AGM on Friday that it had submitted a request to St Edmundsbury Borough Council to look for a new location for a replacement hospital.

The surprise announcement came as the trust's board agreed to spend £1.6m on a new state-of-the-art pharmacy and £1.2m on a modern endoscopy suite at the Hardwick Lane site.

The NHS Trust's website claims that the hospital has the scope for expansion at its current 19ha parkland site on the edge of Bury to meet the healthcare needs of the patients of West Suffolk and Thetford.

But Mr Bown said the current hospital will become too old and cramped to continue delivering modern health services in 20 years time and the board was planning for the future.

“Advances in healthcare and a rapidly growing population have resulted in a continuous programme of expansion, and improvements to the site are continuing.”

“Longer term plans, which look at provision of healthcare up to 20 years ahead, highlight concern that poor access to the current site and age of the buildings may restrict the ability of the trust to deliver its vision of a modern 'healthcare campus'. However, it will be difficult to redevelop on the same site.

“For this reason, we feel it is sensible to submit a request to St Edmundsbury Borough Council to consider the identification of a site for building a new hospital in its Local Development Framework, which runs until 2031,” he said.

The Hardwick Lane site has changed dramatically since West Suffolk Hospital was first opened in 1973, with a day surgery unit opening in 1994, education centre in 2003, eye treatment centre in 2004, Macmillan Centre in 2005, and the completion of a £3.4m radiology investment in 2006.

Richard Spring, West Suffolk MP, said it would be “lovely” to have a new hospital as long as it does not result in a reduction in services.

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council confirmed that the local authority had been approached by the trust to help them find a new site.

“We are in the early stages of discussing this exciting proposal with West Suffolk Hospital,” she said.

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