Final plea to save cancer surgery

HEALTH campaigners have made an impassioned plea to save head and neck cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital today.

Rebecca Lefort

HEALTH campaigners have made an impassioned plea to save head and neck cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital today.

Those battling to save the service know their final chance lies with the Suffolk County Council's health scrutiny committee which meets on Tuesday.

The elected committee can ultimately refer the decision made by the unelected board of Suffolk Primary Care Trust to the secretary of state and ask him to reconsider the plan to scrap the service in Ipswich and move it to Norwich.

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Peter Espley of the Ipswich Hospital Cancer Services User Group, which is campaigning against the move, said he was optimistic that the councillors would decide to challenge the decision.

He said: “I think our odds are better than 50:50 and we are hopeful that they will listen to us and everyone that has opposed this.

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“What the patients carers and general public want is for head and neck to stay in Ipswich.

“We hope the committee will be more accountable because they are the people's representatives and we hope they will take that seriously.

“It will be awful if head and neck cancer goes so I hope so much that the scrutiny committee will make the decision the people of Suffolk want.”

The scrutiny committee is unable to refer the decision to Alan Johnson, the health secretary, at its meeting next week.

Its members can instead accept Suffolk PCT's plans or ask the PCT for more information, the first step to voicing their dissent and sending the matter to Whitehall.

Councillor David Lockwood, chairman of the committee, said: “It is not an option (to send it to the secretary of state) at this stage. We can refer it back to the PCT and ask questions.

“We have to explore every avenue first, we have to scrutinise changes and policies and make sure they are in the best interests of the people of Suffolk.

“I've not got a clue what will happen at the meeting, we'll look at absolutely everything and be very thorough.”

- Are you worried about the changes to head and neck cancer surgery? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail

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