Campaigners hail progress in heart bid

Campaigners today hailed a breakthrough victory in the fight for specialist care for heart patients in the town.


Health Reporter>

IPSWICH: Campaigners today hailed a breakthrough victory in the fight for specialist care for heart patients in the town.

It has been revealed that approval for a new centre to treat non-emergency heart patients at Ipswich Hospital, instead of them having to travel to Papworth, will be sought within weeks.

This is a key stepping stone for The Evening Star's Have A Heart campaign - the third victory of four needed for full emergency heart attack care in Ipswich.

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Last year, new changes were secretly introduced which meant that emergency heart attack patients being taken to specialist Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PPCI) centres outside the county in Basildon, Norwich and Papworth to receive angioplasty treatment (a procedure to open the artery).

The Evening Star launched its Have A Heart Appeal to help set up a catheter laboratory-where elective, or planned, heart treatment would be carried out- with the hope that this would be the foundation for a PPCI centre to be set up in Ipswich.

Politicians and health campaigners welcomed the news that the elective centre (PCI) may soon get the go-ahead as it is one step closer to achieving our ultimate goal.

John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: “This is a real victory. I am delighted with what has been a pretty hard battle fought by The Evening Star and members of parliament all working together. It has been a huge labour and this is the first fruit.

“There is more to come and we have to work harder so that Ipswich Hospital becomes the sort of centre of excellence that we really need.”

Len Tate, vice-president of Heartbeat East Suffolk, said: “We are 100 per cent behind this. It is a big move forward.

“Once you get the conditions where you can carry out the work, then you can start looking at how to increase the work and increase the staff to get you that emergency centre [PPCI].”

Tony Ramsey, another member of Heartbeat East Suffolk, added: “It is good news. Seeing how the snow has affected everything, there is even more of a need for this [PPCI] centre in Ipswich. We are pushing in the right direction.”

Nigel Pickover, editor of The Evening Star, said: “We are delighted with the successes so far - but three quarters there isn't good enough. We'll keep on fighting until Ipswich has the full emergency heart attacks care Ipswich and Suffolk needs and deserves.”

Ipswich MP Chris Mole said: “This is good news in terms of developing the expertise within the hospital which is necessary to provide an emergency service as well as an elective service- if that is something they need to have in the future. It is a necessary starting point.”

Subject to approval by the hospital board and NHS Suffolk, the facility will be set up either in an existing building on the Heath Road site, which will be updated and improved, or in a new building. It is thought once approval is gained, it will be another 12 months before it is up and running.

To support the 'Have a Heart' appeal, send cheques made payable to Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust to Have a Heart, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or donate money in person at the Star's Ipswich offices.

Are you a heart patient who has a view on this? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail>

This is the third victory in The Evening Star's campaign to ensure emergency heart attack patients get treated at Ipswich Hospital.

Victory One: The first one was back in May last year when the new plans were first revealed by the Star.

This revelation that emergency heart attack patients needing angioplasty would be treated in PPCI centres - which are all outside Suffolk - caused widespread concern and prompted a review just ten days before the move was due to take place.

Victory Two: The original proposals by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group meant people would not be given clot-busting drugs in the back of ambulances but would go straight to the specialist centres to undergo angioplasty.

However after collecting more than 24,000 signatures, with help from prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives Ben Gummer, and Heartbeat East Suffolk, it was agreed that during a trial, started by national heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle, patients would be given clot-busting drugs in ambulances on route to PPCI centres if deemed necessary.

Victory Three: Once the lab, also called a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) centre, is operating, there is a better chance of achieving the appeal's goal of setting up a PPCI centre in Ipswich.

Approval for the PCI centre will be sought at the hospital board meeting either this month or March.

NEWS of The Evening Star's third victory in the battle of the emergency heart care scandal comes as a massive boost to the people of Ipswich and Suffolk.

Slowly, but surely, the tidal wave of public opinion appears to be making headway as plans are now in the pipeline to create an elective catheter lab at Ipswich Hospital.

This is a major step towards finally bringing emergency heart attack patients home where they belong - in Suffolk - instead of sending them on a road dash to centres miles away.

But we will not rest on our laurels until the fourth and final hurdle is overcome - to build a Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PPCI) centre at the Heath Road site.

We will be the heartbeat of that campaign.