Disgust at patient travel idea

A FELIXSTOWE couple have spoken of their disgust at suggestions that patients may have to travel to other counties to get the best specialist care from the NHS.

Richard Cornwell

A FELIXSTOWE couple have spoken of their disgust at suggestions that patients may have to travel to other counties to get the best specialist care from the NHS.

Barry Farr and his partner Sandra Bryant have already experienced first hand the cost and transport problems caused by having to travel to London for treatment, and fear it could be a lot worse for other families.

Suffolk Primary Care Trust chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown has warned travelling to get the best treatment could become more frequent in future with services located at the best specialist centres.

Head and neck cancer services are set to be moved from Ipswich Hospital - with patients having to travel to Norwich.

Stroke services are also under review.

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But Mr Farr, of Chelsworth Road, Felixstowe, said he was “absolutely appalled”.

“It is obvious that Carol Taylor-Brown has no understanding of the impact her suggestion of having specialist centres in other counties to which patients will have to travel, will have on those patients,” he said.

“My partner, who suffered from cancer of the eye, was referred by Ipswich Hospital to Moorfield's eye hospital as one of only two in the country, the other being Liverpool, which could do the operation.

“It doesn't take an accountant to realise the cost in time and money to family, friends and relatives in visiting my partner during the period she was in hospital - my own costs were amounting to £50 per day.

“What must also be realised is a cancer patient's continuing care and monitoring is done by the surgeon who performed the operation and who will, obviously, be based at the specialist centre.

“As with many other patients it was not practical for my partner to go on her own for these check-ups, so two of us were having to make the journey. This cost approximately £100 a time.

“We were using the cheapest train tickets which meant we could not return from London before 7pm, so the visit for treatment or monitoring took a full day.”

He said the couple were lucky they could afford to make the trips but there would be many who could not. Public transport to other centres was not always easy.

Mrs Taylor-Brown said: “People are very fond of having services locally but as we look at more evidence they may need to be moved to more specialist centres.

“It is always going to be difficult and these are tough decisions - it's a strong local argument against objective clinical evidence.”

Should we be made to travel out of Suffolk for health care? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk