Council boss: Heart care must stay here

SUFFOLK must have its own specialist heart attack treatment centre, the county's leader demanded today.

Richard Cornwell

SUFFOLK must have its own specialist heart attack treatment centre, the county's leader demanded today.

Furious Jeremy Pembroke said he would not stand for people's lives being put at risk by long journeys for treatment at Papworth, Norwich or Basildon, when they should be treated at Ipswich Hospital.

He will be urging the county council to fight health bosses all the way over the ill-thought-out changes and to get Suffolk the same facilities as neighbouring counties.

Mr Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council said: “I am very angry over this - they want to give Suffolk second best and I think Suffolk needs and deserves the best.”

He added that in his judgement Ipswich Hospital should have its own specialised heart unit.

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Mr Pembroke said: “I think it is absolutely outrageous that someone from our county will not be taken to our own hospital but be driven in an ambulance, with their life at risk, to a hospital in another county.

“I will shout from the rooftops on this because we cannot be putting lives at risk in this way.”

Mr Pembroke said he was also deeply concerned about the families of victims of life-threatening heart attacks who would want to be with them, especially those who don't have transport.

He said: “They want to be able to get to their relative quickly and easily but will be left behind at the very time someone needs to be with them, when they are very ill.”

The council's health scrutiny committee had not been able to discuss the issue because of this week's elections but would do so at its next meeting.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer had already raised concerns in parliament that the announcement appeared to have been made at a time when full discussion could not take place because the committee cannot meet while it is in electoral purdah as any decision could seem party political.

Asked if he thought the changes were being bulldozed through while councillors were out of action, Mr Pembroke said: “I hope not. But I think we are being short-changed when you look at what is being provided in our neighbouring counties.”

The East of England Specialised Commissioning Group, which decided where to place the new heart attack centres, has put the changes, which were due to come into effect today , on hold - and asked heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle to lead a review into heart attack care in Suffolk.

- Should Ipswich Hospital have a specialist heart attack treatment centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

THE PROPOSALS:-

Emergency patients with life-threatening heart attacks will be treated in three specialist centres, created by the East of England Specialised to Commissioning Group (SCG).

The SCG say the establishment of the Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention centres (PPCI) will save an estimated 50 lives a year in the east of England.

The group said treatment times and patient outcomes will be closely audited to ensure the highest possible level of care.

The centres provide primary angioplasty, a technique which uses a balloon catheter to open up blocked blood vessels in the heart.

Health bosses also propose that paramedics will no longer be able to give patients life-saving clot busting drugs as they are able to do currently because it interferes with angioplasty. However, the angioplasty is only effective if administered quickly enough.

Non emergency heart attacks:-

However, patients who suffer minor, non-emergency, heart attacks, who would not need clot-busting drugs from paramedics, will still be treated at Ipswich Hospital.

And the Heath Road site will continue to provide other cardiology services and is hoping to expand its cardiology team in the near future, although the emergency treatment changes will cost the hospital about �750,000 in lost revenue yearly.