20,000 angry voices against heart plan

MORE than 20,000 voices are today calling on health bosses to rethink their stance on heart attack care in Suffolk.

Rebecca Lefort

MORE than 20,000 voices are today calling on health bosses to rethink their stance on heart attack care in Suffolk.

A staggering number of concerned residents - from Ipswich to Leiston, Felixstowe to Stowmarket, Hadleigh to Woodbridge - have signed petitions in a protest against plans that would see emergency heart attack victims forced to travel outside the county for treatment.

The petitions have been organised by The Evening Star, cardiac support group Heartbeat East Suffolk, and Ipswich's Conservative parliamentary candidate Ben Gummer.

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The phenomenal opposition to the much-criticised proposals, which would leave Ipswich victims with less chance of survival than people in Norwich, Cambridge and Basildon, is clear in the emotional pleas made by many signatories.

Today Tony Hawes, the chairman of Heartbeat East Suffolk, said the strength of feeling from heart patients and the public had been overwhelming.

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Mr Hawes, who has suffered three heart attacks himself, said: “We were hoping to get 10,000 and thought that was a long shot. But the response has been overwhelming.

“We've got more than 16,000 and could have doubled it - there are still more coming in.

“People were coming up and asking if they could they sign the petitions, and we had queues of people waiting because we were so busy.

“We have never done anything like this before but we all felt we had to do something, because the patients really know what it is like to have a heart attack, and what the journey will do to you.”

Mr Gummer said he was inspired by Heartbeat's determined efforts to fight for heart patients, which showed how passionate patients in Suffolk were about their healthcare.

He said: “I've got nothing but admiration for Heartbeat.

“This is an organisation which already does so much good work, such as raising money and helping people get to hospital, but it has been forced to put that good work on hold to fight.

“I think this campaign shows that although people are fed up with politicians they are not fed up with the community and making a difference.

“I'm so pleased we've all come together and I think that by so many people making their voices heard we have a chance of getting the right thing for Ipswich.”

- Are you pleased so many people have spoken out against the move? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Suffolk's voice - a selection of the letters and comments made by Evening Star readers

- Kathleen Groom, of Foxhall Road, Ipswich, said: “Nobody suffering a heart attack wants to face a long journey on the off chance of receiving more specialist treatment, if, by the time they arrive, for many, it would be too late. Minutes count. The hospital on our doorstep is perfectly capable of providing immediate treatment.”

- Clare Jones, of Palmcroft Road, Ipswich said: “Sick people who might be dying should not have to travel miles on inferior roads to obtain treatment. Ipswich is large enough to have treatment in Ipswich.”

- Suffolk Coastal District Council cabinet member Sherrie Green said: “A logical solution would appear to be to have a facility at Ipswich that could serve all of Suffolk and those in north Essex. We need to know why NHS Suffolk does not appear to have ever considered this option.”

- Carl Mann, of Henslow Road, Ipswich, said: “I am appalled that patients would be sent to Norwich. They will be dead before they arrive unfortunately.”

Click here to visit our dedicated Health Watch section and sign the online petition against the planClick here to visit our dedicated Health Watch section and sign the online petition against the plan

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