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Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Crisis at Colchester General Hospital

Like many Colchester residents, I have read about the unfolding problems at Colchester General Hospital with increasing concern and a sense of bewilderment that the situation has been allowed to get this far. I am not going to comment on the specific details of cases which have been reported in the Daily Gazette and other media. In addition I am not about to start criticising current Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell, who has held meetings with both Dr Lucy Moore, the hospital's interim chief executive, and with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Clearly Sir Bob is making every effort to contribute to sorting the problems out.
However I will make one point, which is not being made loudly enough. The population of Colchester is growing rapidly; the total figure for Colchester Local Authority (LA) was estimated at 173,000 in the 2011 census, an 11% increase from the 2001 census estimate of 156,000. In 2010 the Gazette suggested that the figure night rise to 207,000 by mid 2018. Given such large population increases and the huge amount of house building in the Colchester area over the last fifteen years, it seems to me that there has been inadequate investment in a corresponding increase in NHS facilities. Instead we have the decision to close Essex County Hospital in 2015. We also had the decision to move the popular North Hill walk in centre to a location further away from the middle of town and harder to get to. There has been completely inadequate investment in health infrastructure to cope with the extent of Colchester's expansion. I'm not suggesting that this is the only cause of Colchester General Hospital's problems however I'd be massively surprised if its not a major contributing factor. You don't massively increase demand without increasing supply.

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