Dentists hit out at cancer changes

TWO dentists have today blasted proposals to move head and neck cancer surgery from Ipswich to Norwich, claiming it would be “detrimental” to patients.

TWO dentists have today blasted proposals to move head and neck cancer surgery from Ipswich to Norwich, claiming it would be “detrimental” to patients.

Both Alison Brown, from The Dental Surgery in Northgate Street, and Mike Fordham, from Berners Dental Practice, in Ipswich, have strongly backed The Evening Star's campaign to keep the cancer services in Ipswich, believing the alternative would lead to a downgrading of services and additional stress for patients.

Miss Brown said: “Although more and more young people are affected by oral or facial cancer, my experience has been with older people. In my experience they are quite often caring for an elderly husband or wife. A lot of these people with oral cancer may not be able to speak properly and so it could be a real job getting to Norwich on their own.”

Miss Brown, who has more than 20 years' experience as a dentist, said the difficulty of getting the train to Norwich and then finding the hospital from there would be too much for some older people. She added that with the expense of getting a taxi every time, many may not bother to attend appointments.

The Anglia Cancer Network has recommended moving the service to comply with national guidelines and has rejected the option of creating a joint surgery service between Ipswich and Norwich.

More than 1,200 people so far have signed The Evening Star's petition to keep the services at Ipswich Hospital.

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On average Miss Brown, who lives in Kesgrave, refers about 20 to 30 patients to the hospital with concerns about issues like cancer.

She added: “The population in Ipswich is also growing with all these new housing estates so there are going to be a lot more people who need these services.

“It is dreadful to even contemplate shutting the service down. I feel very very strongly about it-not just from a dentist point of view but for my family too as you never know who could get cancer. I really hope this campaign will keep the service here.”

In a letter to the Star, Mike Fordham from Berners Dental Practice, stated: “I was extremely concerned that we are to lose our excellent maxillofacial cancer department. This will result in a significant downgrading of our head and neck surgery in Ipswich and we must do everything to resist this proposal.”

Audrey Bradford, director of the Anglia Cancer Network, said: “All post and pre-operative appointments and treatments would continue to be carried out locally. It is only surgical procedures that will happen in Norwich.

“The whole idea behind these proposals is to put in place a highly specialised team resulting in improved outcomes for patients.

“Whilst it is difficult to generalise, as all a cases will be different from each other, a patient with oral cancer is only likely to need one major specialist operation, and any other treatment would be carried out locally.”

Are you concerned about the proposed changes to head and neck cancer surgery? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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