Grandmother joins heart care fight

A grandmother has today backed The Evening Star's campaign to get specialist heart care in Ipswich after her experience getting treated miles from home.

Naomi Gornall

IPSWICH: A grandmother has today backed The Evening Star's campaign to get specialist heart care in Ipswich after her experience getting treated miles from home.

June Jones, 79, from Ipswich, was admitted to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge for an operation after it was discovered she needed a heart bypass.

She was initially due to be in for seven to ten days but because of complications ended up staying for five weeks.

Her daughter Jo Dyer, of Halliwell Road, Ipswich, had to travel for up to two hours a day and spent hundreds of pounds to visit her mother.

Although neither can fault the care received, the inconvenience of the location has prompted them both to back the Star's campaign to get a specialist Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PPCI) centre in Ipswich.

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The East of England Specialised Commissioning Group brought forward changes to treat all emergency heart attack patients from Suffolk in centres at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth and Basildon in Essex.

There are currently no plans to have a PPCI centre in Ipswich meaning extremely ill patients face a road dash of more than 60 miles for treatment.

Experts have admitted that the closer patients live to a PPCI centre, the higher the chances are of survival.

Last week a woman in her 80s from Ipswich suffered a heart attack and was on the way to Papworth when she suffered complications and had to be diverted back to Ipswich Hospital where she died.

Mrs Jones said: “I would like to offer my condolences to the woman's family.

“The main point I want to make is about how hard the journey is for the visitors of patients to places like Papworth.”

Mrs Dyer, 47, said: “The cost of staying there and driving backwards and forwards has been about �700 over that time. The food was expensive in the hospital and the car park cost about �4 a day.”

For the first ten days, Mrs Dyer stayed in the village of Papworth, where some people rent out rooms for �10. Once her daughter, Kimberly, had a baby, she returned to Ipswich, but made the arduous 70-mile journey along the A14 everyday.

She added: “People need visitors when they are in hospital because it makes them get better more quickly. There were road works and accidents that blocked the road. It would be a problem for even ambulances to get through.”

Have you had a similar experience of getting treated away from home? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

Proposals to treat all emergency heart attack patients in PPCI centres - which are all outside Suffolk - were revealed after The Evening Star uncovered them in the SHA's strategy to improve healthcare in the region

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

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 have ordered that a thorough audit of previously-untested journey times be carried out. This trial period started on September 1, and could last six months.

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.

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