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About the merger

About the merger

Providing the communities we serve with excellent healthcare and building a better future for east Suffolk and north Essex.

Since May 2016 Colchester and Ipswich hospital trusts have been working together towards merger. The Outline Business Case was agreed in August 2017, and the Full Business Case will go to both Trusts' Boards for agreement at the end of March 2018. Following this agreement, NHS Improvement, NHS England and the Department of Health will be asked to approve the merger.



Our aims

  • See patients at the right time
  • Attract and retain the best staff
  • Provide the latest treatments locally

Clinical model

Our clinical model has been developed and designed by doctors, nurses and other staff who care for patients every day.

Both hospitals will continue to provide A&E, obstetric-led maternity and 24/7 emergency admissions. 

The vast majority of outpatient appointments will continue to take place as they do now. However, we need to make sure patients only come to either hospital for an appointment if there is a clinical need for them to do so. We will look at how we use technology to reduce the number of times they need to attend, as well as reviewing how we could increase the use of, for example, telephone follow up. We will also be looking at how we use our community hospitals in Felixstowe, Harwich, Clacton, Halstead, Aldeburgh and Ipswich’s Bluebird Lodge, and our community services.

Merging gives us the opportunity to save, strengthen and grow the services we provide within our region, saving patients journeys further afield to hospitals in London, Cambridge, Norfolk or Basildon, which is where they would go now.



We have many talented members of staff and we think that by working together we can do more to offer greater opportunities for training and development. This might be through sharing best practice, increasing peer-review of treatment plans or learning new skills by working in multi-disciplinary teams. By offering more attractive roles, we can recruit the next generation of staff seeking to fulfil their potential.

Many of our specialities want to focus on improving their patient pathways and make sure that both hospitals are able to provide the same standards of quality care. We also know that we need to focus more on strategies which prevent people developing conditions in the first place and will be working closely with our community partners and GPs.

Many of our departments want to develop into centres of excellence, providing the very best care to patients and being at the forefront of improving clinical outcomes nationally. For example, our endoscopy teams are working towards this goal, which may include investing in larger recovery rooms, a new training programme for nurses and bringing back some services to the area.

Working together means that we can use our staff better to strengthen our services. Some specialities are facing national, and sometimes international, staff shortages. Our teams believe that through merger they will be better able to manage fluctuations in activity across both hospitals and continue to provide all services for patients in north Essex and east Suffolk. 

Both hospitals currently share a chief executive and a chair, by extending common governance and sharing information, we think that we can standardise and improve care across east Suffolk and north Essex. This is another way that our teams can work together to create one strategy across both hospitals to care for one population.

In some cases working together means that we are greater than the sum of our parts. When it comes to buying power, we think we will be able to reduce costs by purchasing the things we need just once, not twice. The principle extends to future investments in services. Sometimes we will be able to invest in a service at one site, to provide patient benefits across the whole population, freeing up resource for other investments.

The wider picture

The Partnership is a key part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Suffolk and north east Essex. This plan aims to help those who provide health and social care in the area to work together to care for our local population.

This plan has been developed by the area’s health and social care organisations as a result of a wide range of information, including feedback from the public, gathered by local NHS organisations.

To meet changing patient needs, improve quality of care and keep people healthy, Colchester and Ipswich need to act together, in line with this plan.

Together we can address some of the local and national challenges that can prevent us from delivering the very best care for patients.

You can find more information about the local Sustainability and Transformation Plan here.