£5.3m Breast Care Centre given planning permission

The Blossom Appeal, Ipswich Hospital

Plans to build a new £5.3million Breast Care Centre at Ipswich Hospital have been given the go ahead.

The new centre will transform the experience patients have when they come to hospital by bringing all elements of breast care under one roof – the clinic, the imaging department and hospital breast screening.

A planning application submitted to Ipswich Borough Council by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), the organisation which runs Ipswich Hospital, has been granted permission.

Paul Fenton, Director of Estates and Facilities at ESNEFT, said: “It is great news for Suffolk that this build can go ahead. The new centre will be spacious, calming and fit to house state-of-the-art healthcare, and will make such a big difference to our patients.”

The new centre is a partnership between NHS funding from ESNEFT and a fundraising appeal called The Blossom Appeal by Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity.

We’ve already raised £4.1million from the support of NHS funding and the local community, but we need help from fundraisers to raise the £1.2million needed to complete this vital project. There are lots of ways to get involved in fundraising.

Mandy Jordan, associate director of Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity, said: “The charity is hugely proud to be a partner in this exciting project.

“All the money raised and donated through the charity will go towards making the centre state-of-the-art. There will be extra equipment, artwork, peaceful indoor spaces and gardens. We can provide dedicated areas for patients to be able to hold support groups and meetings.

“We want to thank all the fundraisers and donors who have supported the Blossom Appeal so far, as well as rallying local people to get involved and help us raise that last £1.2million.”

The number of patients needing breast care is on the rise, but at Ipswich Hospital there isn’t a dedicated clinic. The breast care team shares clinic space with other clinical departments so it isn’t tailored to breast care. The new centre will create this dedicated space and will also bring hospital breast screening and breast imaging under the same roof. Patients will no longer need to walk backwards and forwards between the departments as they do now, often needing to get dressed and undressed again and spend longer in waiting rooms.

The new centre is due to open in the central outpatients’ area of the hospital in spring 2022.

Consultant breast surgeon Caroline Mortimer said: “Our fabulous clinical teams already provide gold standard treatment, and this new centre will give them an environment to match.”

The Breast Care Centre is one of a number of building developments planned for Ipswich Hospital. Plans are also underway to build a new Urgent Treatment Centre and Emergency Department and, thanks to another partnership between ESNEFT and Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity, a new Children’s Unit will be built.

Patient story

Laura Dolan was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2017. The mum-of-three had breast surgery and eight rounds of chemotherapy. Laura is now in remission and lives with her husband, Peter, and her sons, Josh, Harry and Ollie, in Melton.

“I’d been to see my GP about a sore area I had in my breast. It was cancer,” she said. “My diagnosis had a huge impact on me and my family. I was young – only 43 at the time. I was fit and healthy with no family history of breast cancer. I went from being a busy working mum to a cancer patient. It was an anxious and worrying time for us all.

“I had eight rounds of chemo and then I had my left breast removed, immediate implant reconstruction as well as clearance of all my lymph nodes.

“The biggest challenge though was telling the boys, who were 10, eight and four at the time, but we wanted them to be involved and not feel left out. We still talk about it now and they’ve been an amazing support.

“I cannot fault the staff at Ipswich Hospital. Everyone has supported and cared for me from the moment of diagnosis, through treatment and even when I popped in recently for a little niggle I had.

“Having an integrated breast centre would make such a difference to patients in the future. Having more space would really help with anxiety levels when you go for treatment, and it would be so beneficial to have an environment that wasn’t quite so clinical.

“The care the breast clinic provide is second to none, but the facilities aren’t great and they need to be better to continue to provide that level of care.”

22 December 2021