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Why West Suffolk?

Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk is a unique and dazzling historic gem. An important market town with a richly fascinating heritage, the striking combination of medieval architecture, elegant Georgian squares and glorious cathedral and abbey gardens provide a distinctive visual charm. With prestigious shopping, an award-winning market, plus variety of attractions and places to stay, Bury St Edmunds is under two hours from London and very convenient for Cambridge.

The county of Suffolk offers a mix of “commuter belt living”, rural countryside which hosts numerous festivals and is home to many artists and those wanting a real feeling of the countryside peppered with history and culture, and wonderful coastline designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Fact and figures about the Trust

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) provides hospital and some community health care services to the population of west Suffolk and is an associate teaching hospital of the University of Cambridge. We serve a predominantly rural geographical area of roughly 600 square miles with a population of around 280,000.

At our main site, the 430-bed West Suffolk Hospital, there is a purpose-built Macmillan Unit for the care of people with cancer, a dedicated eye treatment centre and a day surgery unit where children and adults are treated. Access to specialist services is offered to local residents by networking with tertiary centres, most notably Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge.

The Trust has a turnover of £200 million and employs just over 3,000 staff.

Our achievements

Our Trust has many accolades and achievements to be proud of:

  • Finalist in the Health Service Journal Awards 2018 ‘Using Technology to Improve Efficiency’ category, for our work in piloting new digital communications tool, Medic Bleep.
  • Finalist in the Student Nursing Times Awards 2019 ‘Student Placement of the Year: Hospital’ category, in recognition of our nursing student support programme.
  • Rated by our staff as the best general acute in the country for giving them control and choice over how they do their work in the latest NHS staff survey (2018).
  • Rated as the top hospital in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for meeting best practice criteria for hip fracture treatment by the National Hip Fracture Database.
  • West Suffolk has the highest one-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with cancer in the east of England thanks to the partnership between our Trust, West Suffolk CCG and the Suffolk GP federation. 
  • Fifty women across the Trust announced as ‘inspirational women of west Suffolk’ as part of NHS 70th birthday celebrations
  • Scored top in the East of England for doctors' overall training satisfaction in acute trusts, in the General Medical Council’s national training survey (2018).
  • Named as one of the CHKS Top Hospitals for 2018, healthcare improvement specialists.
  • Our estates and facilities project manager, was awarded the individual development award at the recent Health Estates and Facilities Management Association (HefmA) awards.
  • Our My WiSH Charity was chosen as the regional winner in The Patient and Public Involvement Award category of the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards.

These accolades go hand-in-hand with some of our ongoing developments and achievements across the past 12 months. As a snapshot:

  • Delivery of a £5.2m cardiac suite that allows us to deliver procedures like angiography and pacemaker fitting on site for the first time.
  • Opening of a new acute assessment unit (AAU) that has transformed how we assess and treat our emergency patients.
  • Introducing Medic Bleep, a digital app to replace physical bleeps, that has been evidenced to save valuable staff time (average 48-minutes per shift for junior doctors and 21-minutes per shift for nurses) so they can spend more of it caring for patients.
  • Linking our electronic patient care record in the emergency department with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, so that clinicians at either site can access information on a patient’s record held at the other trust.
  • Helping the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area to achieve the fewest excess bed days in the country (the term used to describe where people are still in hospital when they no longer need to be there).

A ‘top hospital’ for safe, effective care

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has been named as one of the country’s ‘top hospitals’ for providing safe, effective and high quality care for the second year running. The hospital was one of 40 from across the country to receive the accolade from independent healthcare intelligence company CHKS during its Top Hospitals 2016 awards ceremony in London in May 2016. It came following detailed analysis of 22 key areas covering clinical effectiveness, health outcomes, efficiency, patient experience and quality of care. Judges looked at a variety of data, including length of stay, hospital acquired infections, inpatient surveys and emergency readmission rates, before deciding which hospitals would receive the award. For the sixth consecutive year, West Suffolk was also one of just five hospitals shortlisted in the quality of care category. The trust won the title in 2011 and 2012.

Centre of global digital excellence

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is to become a prestigious “centre of global digital excellence” after successfully bidding for a share of £100m in funding to further improve the way technology is used to benefit patients. The hospital was invited to bid for the money by NHS England after it was identified as one of the country’s 26 “most digitally advanced” trusts following the introduction of its electronic patient record, e-Care, earlier this year.

Over the next two years, up to £10 million of funding will be invested in accelerating the hospital’s existing plans to develop further its e-Care system. This will see the system fully integrated with those used by GPs other hospitals such as Addenbrooke’s, social services and other care providers so that everyone can share the same records, in turn avoiding duplication while making life easier for clinicians. In addition, a secure patient portal will be created to give patients access to their personal health records, allow them to view test results and send messages to their doctor, in turn ensuring they are fully involved in their own care.

Hip fracture care among the best in the country

The National Hip Fracture Database rates West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) as top in the east of England for the care patients receive when attending with a hip fracture, and sixth nationally, up three places from last year. Hip fracture is the most common serious injury in older people, often resulting in lengthy hospital stays with only a minority of patients regaining their previous abilities and often needing long-term care.

An integrated staff team, including specialists from the emergency department, orthopaedics, elderly medicine and physiotherapy, work hard to deliver against best clinical practice guidelines. The team has introduced regular virtual fracture clinics at West Suffolk Hospital, a key part of the care given to patients attending with musculoskeletal injuries, where they assess patient needs together to identify immediate care needs and ensure they see the right specialist at the earliest opportunity.

WSFT achieved 85.1% in the best practice tariff*, the highest in the east region, against a national average of 65.6%. Records show that:

  • 100% of patients received a bone health assessment (national average 97.2%)
  • 88.2% of patients had surgery on the day of, or day after, admission (national average 71.5%)
  • 80.2% of patients were mobilised out of bed on the day after surgery (national average 76.1%)
  • The average overall length of stay in days was 17 (national average 21.1 days)

Top award for hospital’s patient meals

The Trust received a prized national accolade for its dedication to serving fresh, ethical and sustainable food to patients, visitors and staff. West Suffolk hospital was presented with the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark bronze award for the meals it serves in the Courtyard Café and Time Out restaurant. The award shows that the hospital uses fresh ingredients which meet nutritional guidelines and are free from additives and harmful trans-fats. All of the meat used by the hospital conforms with UK animal welfare standards and has earned the ‘Red Tractor’ farm assurance quality mark, while fish is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and eggs are free range. To achieve the award, the hospital’s catering team reviewed its recipes and changed some of its ingredients, such as swapping milk powder for fresh milk in its cauliflower cheese. They also worked with their butcher to change the seasoning in their sausages, while increasing the meat content of the sausage rolls which are sold to staff so that they now contain over 80% pork.