STROKE patients have today rallied behind The Star’s Save Our Stroke Care campaign – vowing to fight to ensure a specialist emergency centre is established at Ipswich Hospital.

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Shocked patients and their relatives have come forward to highlight the “excellent” care they received at the hospital’s stroke service.

A regional review of stroke services in East Anglia aims to create several centres of excellence, Hyper Acute Stroke Units (HASU), to improve care and outcomes for patients.

As part of the process an External Expert Advisory Group is understood to have suggested three options for Suffolk:

n HASUs, providng emergency treatment, at Addenbrooke’s and Colchester with acute services, for rehabilitation, at Ipswich and West Suffolk

n A HASU at Ipswich with acute services at Colchester and West Suffolk

n HASUs at Ipswich and Colchester with an acute service at West Suffolk

The first option would see emergency stroke patients having to be taken by ambulance to Addenbrooke’s or Colchester, prompting concerns from experts and patients.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has joined the fight, vowing to ensure patients in Ipswich and east Suffolk receive the best possible care at the town’s hospital.

Ray Durrant said he has “nothing but praise” for Ipswich Hospital’s stroke team after his wife Pauline suffered three strokes.

The 82-year-old of Larchcroft Road, said his wife of 59 years passed away last month but credits the hospital’s stroke team with prolonging her life.

“I find it beyond belief that any right-minded person could consider leaving Ipswich Hospital without this facility,” the grand-father of three told The Star.

“Pauline suffered her big stroke at 8.45am. I rang 999 and the paramedics arrived within 15 minutes.

“She was taken straight to the hospital and by 11.15am they had carried out a brain scan and she had been given the specialist clot busting treatment.

“My family and I cannot thank the paramedics and hospital stroke staff enough for the fantastic treatment and consideration that we received and within the stroke treatment timescale.

“Would that timescale have been longer if we had travelled to a unit outside the Suffolk area? What with peak hour traffic, road works and accidents. Who knows?

“Time is of the essence so how health chiefs can even consider adding time to a patient’s journey beggars belief.

“The service at Ipswich Hospital is fantastic, I am quite sure they prolonged Pauline’s life.” GPs at the helm of the county’s Clincial Commissioning Groups (CCG) – who took over from NHS Suffolk yesterday – are yet to make a decision on the future of stroke care in Suffolk.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG and West Suffolk CCG said they are waiting for the final suggestions from the Expert External Advisory Group.

She said both CCGs have signed up to a strategic statement outlining their vision to create a HASU in Suffolk.

But Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital have to put forward their case showing evidence they can meet the requirements necessary to become a HASU, before any decision can be made.

More praise

Alison and Bob Riches celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary this weekend – a milestone they believe they would not have reached were it not for the timely treatment Bob received at Ipswich Hospital when he fell victim to a stroke last October.

A quick journey to Ipswich Hospital by ambulance and Mr Riches was met by stroke consultant Muhibbur Chowdhury and his team.

A brain scan was carried out and clot busting thrombolysis drugs were given within the recommended three hours.

Echoing the praise for Ipswich Hospital Mrs Riches, of Nacton, said: “I am so pleased and thankful to say that only a few hours later Bob was sitting up in bed talking normally with hand arm and leg functions restored.

“We shall both be eternally grateful for the excellent and timely care and treatment that he received from paramedics, Mr Chowdhury and all the emergency team at Ipswich Hospital, and the staff on Shotley ward.

“I am sure that if Bob had to be transported for the emergency stroke treatment to a hospital much further away, then the outcome would not have been so successful.

“As it is Bob is able to get on with life as before.

“Indeed I have been told that without the clot-busting drug being adminstered so timely, then Bob would not be able to speak properly and he would not have regained the full function of his arms and legs and would most probably be home in a wheelchair - if home at all.

“This raises another point - If stroke patients are disabled and need extra nursing care this would have to be provided by the NHS or social services either at home or indeed in a nursing home.

“Another long-term expense and another reason to treat stroke patients as quickly effectively and at the nearest stroke unit – at the Ipswich hospital.

It is ludicrous to be thinking of sending patients to Colchester or Addenbrooke’s hospitals.

“I do hope the Stroke Review team will come to their senses and keep an emergency response stroke team at Ipswich Hospital.”

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