Death strengthens call for heart centre in Ipswich

HEALTH campaigners have today said that getting a specialist heart centre in Ipswich is vital after a woman died while being transferred to Papworth.

Naomi Gornall

HEALTH campaigners have today said that getting a specialist heart centre in Ipswich is vital after a woman died while being transferred to Papworth.

In yesterday's Evening Star, we revealed how a 40-year-old woman, who suffered a heart attack at her Ipswich home, was being transferred to Papworth Hospital when complications arose and she had to be diverted back to Ipswich Hospital. She sadly later died at the hospital.

Today health campaigners said they were saddened by the woman's death and claim the case is a reminder that getting specialist care close to home is vital.

Tony Ramsey, of Heartbeat East Suffolk, said: “If there was a PPCI centre in Ipswich, there is no question she would have gone there. As she was thrombolysed in the ambulance, the fact that she was on the road made it more dangerous for her.

“If there had been a centre in Ipswich, it might not have saved her but at least it would have removed all the problems that occurred because she was being transferred.

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“Our main objective should be to get a fully fledged 24/7 PPCI centre in Ipswich.”

Prue Rush, a health campaigner for Suffolk, said: “I think this is going to make people feel that they would be much happier if there was something closer to home so they wouldn't have to undergo the journey.

“Credit must go to the ambulance drivers and paramedics who cared for her and had to make difficult decisions about how to treat her. This is a huge responsibility for them and we appreciate the extra burdens on them at this time.”

John Gummer, Suffolk Coastal MP, said: “This case is terribly sad and it does make me very sad that we do not have the facility at Ipswich to deal with these cases

“I am sure the ambulance crew did what seemed to be the best thing in the circumstances and obviously they will review it and see in hindsight if anything could have been done differently.

“The most important thing is to say our thoughts are with the patient's family.”

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Needham Market, said: “My general support is rock solid that Suffolk must have the best provisions and we should not be second class citizens when it comes to cardiac care.”

In profile:-

- Earlier this year The Evening Star uncovered plans by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG) to treat all emergency heart attack patients in specialist Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PPCI) centres at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth and Basildon. Suffolk would not have a specialist centre at all.

Concerns became so widespread that a review was called for just ten days before the move was due to take place on June 1.

- The original proposals by the SCG meant people would not be given lifesaving clot-busting drugs in the back of ambulances but would undergo lengthy journeys to take them straight to the specialist centres to undergo angioplasty, which involves using a balloon to clear blocked arteries.

- More than 24,000 signatures were collected against the move by The Evening Star, prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives Ben Gummer, and Heartbeat East Suffolk.

- Professor Boyle, the national heart tsar, and his team, investigated concerns over journey times and inequalities expressed by the patients and clinicians. He ordered that a thorough audit of previously-untested journey times was carried out. This trial period started on September 1, and could last six months.

- It was also agreed that during the trial patients would be given clot-busting drugs in ambulances on route to PPCI centres if deemed necessary

How you can help:-

The Evening Star launched its Have A Heart Appeal to help set up a catheter laboratory at Ipswich Hospital. The lab will initially be used to treat non-urgent heart operations but could eventually be expanded into a specialist primary angioplasty centre.

The appeal is asking for just one pound from every person who may need care at Ipswich Hospital's cardiac department in the future - which would collect around �350,000. The total is already exceeding �11,900.

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.