A NEW £44million centre for hip and knee surgeries will attract “the very best” surgeons and is expected to treat more than a dozen patients every day.

The governing bodies of North East Essex and Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups unanimously approved the plan, which was drawn up by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

Details of the centre have now been revealed. It will have at least 48 inpatient beds and up to six specialist operating theatres.

Dr Shane Gordon, the trust’s director of strategy, said he “fully expected” the centre to attract top surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, therapists and support staff.

“It will improve experience of care our patients receive, as these facilities will be built to the most modern NHS standards, including most of the accommodation for patients being in single en-suite rooms,” he said.

“Those top quality staff will want to undertake training, research and bring innovation to practise.

“It will also importantly give us the best chance of keeping the full range of clinical services in our area.

“We recognise there are national proposals afoot which are likely to come to fruition in the next year or two, which will mean only larger centres are allowed to undertake some types of hip and knee surgery.

“If that were to happen now, it would mean certainly Ipswich and possibly Colchester would no longer be able to undertake those procedures.

“That would mean patients having to travel to Cambridge, to Norfolk, or to London for that care.”

Dr Gordon said the trust treated about 3,400 patients in need of planned orthopaedic procedures last year.

When the centre opens by 2025, it is expected just under half of that number would have their surgery at Colchester, with 14 patients per day using the centre.

“Of this number half would come from the Ipswich area,” said Dr Gordon

“That is around three per cent of the contacts we have at Ipswich Hospital for overall orthopaedics, so a relatively small but obviously important part of patient care.”

Over the next 20 years, the trust anticipates the number of patients needing planned orthopaedic surgery will grow by 1,000 each year.

Dr Gordon said: “This is almost a third more patients in the next 20 years, and this new centre will provide the capacity to cope with that growth.”

The next step is the development of detailed business cases, to be submitted to NHS England.

It is the latest in a series of large investments in the hospital following on from the opening of a £3.25million cancer unit in 2019 and the expansion of its Gainsborough wing, which included opening a £2million breast cancer centre.