Anger over cost of information campaign

THOUSANDS of pounds from Suffolk's healthcare budget will be spent on an information campaign designed to reassure people about heart attack care, it emerged today.

THOUSANDS of pounds from Suffolk's healthcare budget will be spent on an information campaign designed to reassure people about heart attack care, it emerged today.

Following an outcry from the public about plans to treat emergency victims outside the county NHS Suffolk has pledged to send leaflets to every household and hold a series of public meetings.

The move is designed to restore trust in the health service which has been forced to apologise for failing to tell people about massive changes to their healthcare.

However, although it was the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group and Strategic Health Authority (SHA) which made the decision to set up specialist primary angioplasty heart centres only in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, and not to consult on the move, it will be Suffolk's NHS which is forced to foot the bill for the new effort.

NHS Suffolk, the primary care trust (PCT) which pays for health services in the county, will be spending more than �10,000 of its tight communications budget on telling people about the result of Professor Roger Boyle's review into heart services.

And because Prof Boyle recommended a three to six-month audit before a final decision is made, NHS Suffolk may be forced to repeat the same exercise again.

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There will also be a series of public meetings where health bosses will set out the reasoning behind the plans, listen to people's concerns and talk about the possibility of creating a specialist centre at Ipswich Hospital - a move backed by Prof Boyle.

Ben Gummer, the prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, said: “I don't think it's acceptable that the PCT is to pick up the bill to put right what the SHA got wrong.”

And John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, echoed the concerns.

“I really think that it is outrageous that the SHA is refusing to pay for the engagement with local people,” he said.

“The local NHS will have to shoulder the burden although it is not their fault.”

However Dr Paul Watson, the SHA's director of commissioning, told the review meeting on Monday: “It is really important to remember the key role of the PCT is the local lead of the NHS. Therefore any engagement or consultation on this would be led and resourced by the local PCT.”

Should the cost of engaging with the public over heart attack care be born by the NHS in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.