Keep life-saving cancer care local

CANCER care - keep it here!That is the battle cry today from The Evening Star, as the fight begins to make sure head and neck cancer surgery stays where it belongs - at Ipswich Hospital.

Rebecca Lefort

CANCER care - keep it here!

That is the battle cry today from The Evening Star, as the fight begins to make sure head and neck cancer surgery stays where it belongs - at Ipswich Hospital.

Anglia cancer chiefs have recommended scrapping giving people life-saving surgery in Ipswich, instead expecting people to travel to Norwich.

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But a consultation by Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) into the move has already generated a huge response and two extra forum dates have had to be added to the five already planned as feeling among service users, clinicians and staff and the public has been so strong.

Judy Terry, Ipswich borough councillor for the Rushmere Ward, said she was glad people had more of a chance to express their concerns about the suggestions and added that she fully backed the Star's campaign.

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She said: “I think it would be very bad for the families as well as the patients who would be affected.

“My father died of throat cancer and was having to get taxis to and from the hospital at the end.

“The care at Ipswich Hospital was terrific. The department has such a good reputation so it would be awful if the services left.”

The head of Ipswich's oral and maxillofacial department, consultant Huw Davies, and footballing legend Sir Bobby Robson who was treated at Ipswich when he developed cancer behind his eye, have also opposed the move and warned it may have seriously damaging consequences.

Mr Robson said he would back any campaign that helped to keep the service in Ipswich.

And Mr Davies has previously warned that if cancer surgery is scrapped at Ipswich his highly-skilled staff may also leave to go to places where they can operate on cancer patients, and as a consequence the busy and well-respected oral and maxillofacial department could go downhill.

This in turn could then impact on the hospital's Accident and Emergency department too if facial trauma cases need to be sent elsewhere.

Mr Davies said: “The whole department will become second rate; no one will want to come to Ipswich.

“The department will lose its status and reputation and won't be able to treat the thousands of cases it treats every year now. It might not be able to accept facial trauma emergencies.

“We're going back to the First World War because if you transfer patients with a facial injury a long way they could die. It is unbelievable.”

The Anglia Cancer Network (ACN) has recommended moving all head and neck cancer surgery to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to comply with national guidelines.

The network rejected proposals to keep the service at Ipswich Hospital or to create a joint service between the two hospitals.

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