HEALTH leaders have confirmed a number of services may move from Colchester Hospital to its Ipswich counterpart.

The two hospitals merged to become part of the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation NHS Trust last year.

The trust has been carrying out an in-depth review of services in both hospitals and has said it is considering “centralising some services” where it would be better for patients.

A report, which is set to go before Essex County Council next week, said any changes would be subject to public consultation.

The report said 24/7 emergency departments, 24-hour emergency admissions and maternity services would remain at both hospital sites.

A spokesman for the trust said: “There was a commitment in our plans for the merger of Colchester and Ipswich hospitals to maintain those services at Colchester Hospital and we are basing the future development of our strategy around that commitment.

“We will continue to provide 24-hour emergency departments, 24-hour emergency admissions and consultant-led maternity services at both Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.

“This means that a number of our services that depend on being located close to these services will remain nearby.

“Further work on our clinical approach is still being carried out, based on a principle of providing care as conveniently for our patients as possible, as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so, and that we have the equipment and staff available.

“It may be necessary to centralise some services on one site if there is clinical evidence and/or professional standards that show single services are safer or give better results for patients.”

The report said this also includes if the cost of replicating high cost equipment would not represent good value and where specialist skills cannot be available at both sites the whole time.

The trust said it was not in a position to confirm which services may be established on one site.

The hospitals received a cash injection worth £69 million from the Government for buildings and equipment.

But the report said: “Although this is a large investment, it is not sufficient to create two acute sites with identical service offers.”

The trust is in the process of preparing the strategy to go before the public and hopes to complete this by the end of the month.

The spokesman added: “The trust intends to have the draft strategy agreed and ready for public engagement by the end of January before engaging with our stakeholders from February .

“By early April we hope to have the final strategy ratified so we can begin implementing it, turning our plans into reality.

“We can’t be certain of the dates of any further activity until that has happened.”