Grieving parents' plea over services

JOHN and Janice Mutimer know only too well how tragedy can happen if specialist heart treatment is needed urgently and is not close at hand.

JOHN and Janice Mutimer know only too well how tragedy can happen if specialist heart treatment is needed urgently and is not close at hand.

Four years ago their 13-year-old daughter Marie Mutimer was suddenly and unexpectedly taken ill with heart problems and died on Christmas Day.

Staff at Ipswich Hospital battled bravely for eight hours to try to save her - but the problem was that there was no specialist heart centre in Suffolk, and experts from the nearest in London were already dealing with another emergency.

Now Mr and Mrs Mutimer, of Chatsworth Crescent, Ipswich, are seeking reassurances that adequate ambulances and specialist paramedics will be available to ensure people get to Papworth, Basildon or Norwich for treatment if Ipswich is not to have a heart attack centre for emergency patients.

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Mr Mutimer said Marie's heart had suddenly started beating really fast.

He said: “We drove her to Ipswich Hospital where the staff did all they could to help her.

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“The consultant realised she was a very sick child and contacted Guy's Hospital in London, a centre of excellence, and it was decided their specialist team would come to transport her by road to London as there was not sufficient equipment in Ipswich.

“Unfortunately their team was out treating another child.

“The staff at Ipswich, helped by phone contact with Guy's, battled for eight hours but the team from Guy's arrived 20 minutes after the doctors and nurses at Ipswich could no longer continue with manual heart massage and had to pronounce her dead.

“If she had have got to Guy's, they may have been able to operate.

“While centres of excellence with latest equipment are wonderful, they are no use if patients in desperate need are not able to get there.

“Clerical decision-makers talk about 120-minute journey times but these could deteriorate, if there are traffic jams or the weather is bad.

“In our daughter's case the weather was good and the roads clear but there were not enough ambulances with specialist staff available to help her.

“The decision-makers state they will review procedures if they are found not to work, but how many more families will be left like us - totally devastated.”

Mr Mutimer said he too had heart problems and when he had a by-pass operation had not realised what he had previously suffered was not a bad angina bout but a heart attack.

“My doctor has since told me the importance of getting to hospital as quickly as possible when I get the signs - he said, don't wait for an ambulance, get your wife to drive you to hospital straight away,” he added.

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