Answers demanded to heart questions

Today the Evening Star is demanding answers to vital questions from the East of England Strategic Health Authority and the NHS East of England:1. Who took the decision not to have a full, public, consultation on the SHA proposals for changes to serious heart attack care which will have such an impact on Suffolk's health service? 2.

Today the Evening Star is demanding answers to vital questions from the NHS East of England, the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) for the region:

1. Who took the decision not to have a full, public, consultation on the SHA proposals for changes to serious heart attack care which will have such an impact on Suffolk's health service?

2. Did the Government give you permission to proceed with your plans without full public consultation and, if so, who at the Department of Health did you talk to?

3. Did any consultation take place about the non-involvement of the public in this process?

4. Did any discussion take place about the Suffolk “black hole” in the regional thinking.

5. Did any discussion take place that the current excellent Ipswich-based heart care for Suffolk would be compromised by the regional centres plan?

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6. Why was a regional centre not planned for Ipswich? What discussion took place about Ipswich?

7. Did you consult Ipswich doctors, Ipswich patients, expert groups or the East of England Ambulance Service about the plans?

8. There was a consultation with the Eastern Region Heart and Stroke Network - what recommendations did they make for Suffolk patients and were they taken into consideration?

9. Was it considered how many members of the public might actually read the strategic vision “Towards the best, together” and was there any other pro-active communication from the SHA's extensive media team about these significant changes?

10. Was the fact ever considered that Suffolk and North Essex have been identified as a growth point by the Government and therefore will see the population increase substantially? Did you investigate this?

11. Did the journey times for patients and the state of the roads from Suffolk to the specialist centres ever get discussed? If so how were they deemed suitable for this kind of emergency journey when it takes 90mins to reach Papworth or Norwich - without any traffic jams or accidents.

12. Has anyone involved in this decision from the SHA been to Suffolk to travel routes from the more rural areas to Norwich or Papworth to see what difficulties they may face and how long it will take them to get there?

13. Has the SHA got any figures on likely deaths that may take place on the road between Suffolk and the new centres?

14. Has the SHA discussed whether or not it will ask doctors at Ipswich Hospital or elsewhere to send serious heart attack patients on from their care WITHOUT any clot-busting drug treatment.

15. Has the SHA considered whether or not it, or any of its officers, may face corporate manslaughter charges if any patients denied treatment at Ipswich Hospital subsequently dies before treatment can be reached at the new centres?

16. Was there any discussion about the extra emotional trauma of patients not being treated within minutes and locally as opposed to much later and a long way away?

17. Has there been any discussion about the travel difficulties faced by relatives of patients a) immediately in the aftermath of a serious heart attack incident and b) in the days after it?

18. Since the public outcry over the plans has there been any discussion to delay them until a full consultation has been held?

19 If the worst should happen and someone should die en route to the specialist centre will the plans be reconsidered? If that person's family feel they want to take legal action over the death who would be deemed responsible? - the SHA for putting the system in place or will the blame be pushed further down the line to doctors or even the paramedic who was in charge of that patient at the time?

20. Has The Secretary of State for Health or his officials been alerted to a) the potential change or b) The Suffolk “black hole” c) the fact that Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals could share a viable PPCI centre and d) the fierce local reaction to the proposals.

21. Dr Robert Winter, medical director for the NHS East of England regional health authority said the decisions were made on the back of evidence which says specialist centres would save 50 lives a year and will be most effective when the treatment is performed within 165 minutes of the emergency call.

However the National Infarct Audit Programme talks about a time of 120mins to get to the service and in America where they have been doing this for longer, the accepted times is 90 minutes. Why is there this much discrepancy?

22. Last year a man died of a heart attack on Felixstowe seafront because an ambulance could not reach him on time as they were all on other emergency calls. Has the ambulance service been given extra resources to cover the journey times - if yes, can you detail what this is and b) if no, does that mean fewer ambulances in Suffolk as the 999 crews are out of it?

23. If this plan goes ahead how many patients are expected to be travelling along the A14 to Papworth, how ill are they likely to be and what skills will be required to look after them.

24. If paramedics are unable to administer the clot-busting drugs what treatment will patients be given if any? What will paramedics be able to do if the patient's condition deteriorates before they reach the specialist centre?

25. Can you name the SHA board members who have been involved in this process and has there been any meeting over the public outcry in Suffolk?

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