Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP visited dedicated teams leading the restart of routine NHS care at Colchester Hospital on Thursday 27 May.
On his visit to the hospital, run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), the Prime Minister also took a quick tour of The Collingwood Centre to talk to staff and patients about cancer care.
From there he went to an elective surgical ward to find out how staff are working hard to see and treat people who have been waiting for routine treatment during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
ESNEFT Chief Executive Nick Hulme said: “It was a privilege to welcome the Prime Minister to Colchester Hospital and to give him the opportunity to meet some of our staff who’ve all worked so hard during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in our hospitals and in the community.
“We have robust plans in place to tackle hospital waiting times, which have undoubtedly increased during the pandemic response. Today we were able to talk to the Prime Minister about what we’re doing locally, as well as the challenges we face, as we work on delivering our routine care recovery plan to treat patients as quickly and as safely as we can.”
The Prime Minister visited The Collingwood Centre, Colchester Hospital’s £3.25million state-of-the-art dedicated cancer centre. It opened in 2019 after a five-year fundraising campaign run by Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity.
He met nurse consultant for chemotherapy Lesley Sheen while he was there and chatted to patients who were receiving treatment too.
NHS England recently announced Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System (which includes ESNEFT) is receiving a share of £160m in funding and extra support to increase the number of elective (planned) operations it delivers.
As a result of the £10m cash boost, more patients in north east Essex and east Suffolk will receive the treatment they need faster.
During his visit the Prime Minister also spent some time on Mersea Ward which cares for elective surgical patients.
Emma Sweeney is Associate Director of Nursing for Surgery, Gastroenterology and Anaesthetics at ESNEFT.
She said:
“We were delighted to welcome the Prime Minister to Mersea Ward. I’m so proud of the care provided by our hard working teams and today the Prime Minister was able to hear about the new and different approaches we’re working on to help us treat more people, more quickly to improve their lives for the better.”
Mersea Ward patient Lewis Clarke, who turned 67 today, spoke about his care and treatment with the Prime Minister during his visit.
He had no symptoms and felt well, but Mr Clarke was diagnosed with bowel cancer just six weeks ago following routine screening and had surgery and is due to go home.
He said: “It’s incredible really, just fantastic. I can’t thank the NHS and staff here enough. Everyone has been amazing.”

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