Group blasts pancreatic cancer move

AN important group which oversees health service changes in the east has criticised a move to scrap pancreatic cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital, it emerged today.

AN important group which oversees health service changes in the east has criticised a move to scrap pancreatic cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital, it emerged today.

The Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JOSC) for the East of England health overview and scrutiny bodies also said it was concerned about the future of Ipswich Hospital and called on health bosses to provide a clear vision for the hospital.

The group, made up of elected councillors, was reporting back to the unelected England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG) on plans to move all pancreatic cancer surgery to Addenbrooke's in Cambridge.

Previously doctors at both Ipswich and nearby Colchester General Hospital have warned that the move would de-skill the Heath Road site and put patients at risk.

Now the committee has sent its response to the SCG, calling for the move to be stopped.

Their response states: “The committee sees the treatment of pancreatic cancer surgery as one activity in a range of hepatopancreatobiliary surgery and follow up work and feels that it should not be looked at in isolation.

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“Moving pancreatic services to one location could also affect the viability of those other services and surgeons elsewhere may well feel that their role is downgraded and seek to move on.

“This was felt to be a serious and genuine concern and recruitment may be an issue in the future.”

It later adds: “The JOSC would welcome a public statement from the Strategic Health Authority about the ongoing viability of Ipswich Hospital, as a reassurance to Suffolk residents.”

David Yorke-Edwards, the chairman of Suffolk's health scrutiny committee and Suffolk's representative on the JOSC, said: “I'm pleased that we've put in a unanimous recommendation and we hope that the SCG are able to find a compromise.

“I think a large number of the counties are getting concerned that Cambridge is getting more than its share of facilities.

“And I was surprised that even in Cambridge they understood the concerns that everything seems to be centralised in Cambridge.”

Are you worried about plans to scrap pancreatic cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

PATIENTS have aired their views on Ipswich Hospital's bid to give power to the people.

The hospital is preparing an application that will transfer control away from a distant health authority and into the hands of the public by becoming a coveted foundation trust (FT).

If the Heath Road site achieves the special status, it could generate extra revenue to plough into retaining and developing specialist services, which consultants say are currently being downgraded.

The move would allow the hospital to do away with the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), which has come in for criticism lately for not properly consulting over plans to move emergency heart attack victims to regional centres outside the county.

In the first of a series of public meetings, Ipswich Hospital's chief executive, Andrew Reed, outlined the proposed application that would give the public greater say.

He admitted the hospital had endured failings in the past, including serious debts a few years ago, but claimed it was now ready to compete with other regional FTs such as Addenbrooke's, in Cambridge, and Colchester.

Speaking at St Peter's Church on Ipswich Waterfront, he said: “While we perform generally well, we have had some areas where we have had problems and we need to keep on top of these.”

However, Mr Reed said recent worries raised by consultants over specialist services in the media had overly fuelled fears for the future of the hospital.

He said: “I understand that there are concerns, but I am pleased the consultants are fully supporting the FT application.”

Former patient David Walker today welcomed the possibility of ditching the remote-control of the SHA in favour of local decision-making.

The 66-year-old from Hadleigh Heath owes his life to the skills of Ipswich Hospital's pancreatic specialists after he was on death's door with severe pancreatitis.

He is now campaigning to keep specialist services at the Heath Road site.

“I have an abject hate of the SHA,” he said. “I am passionate about local services for local people. I hope the bid works.

“The hospital would stand a chance of becoming a specialist heart attack centre if it can raise finance. But it really needs top management to do so.”

Do you think Ipswich Hospital should become a foundation trust? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

What is a foundation trust?

First established in 2004, foundation trusts enable patients, members of the public, staff and organisations to become part of a new type of healthcare organisation called public benefit corporations.

Although still subject to NHS principles and standards, members will help set the future direction of the hospital.

How does a foundation trust differ from other NHS trusts?

The board of directors will act as they do on the current hospital trust, but a foundation is no longer managed by health authorities and it has financial freedom to raise money for investments.

How does a foundation trust work?

Each foundation trust must involve a board of governors, which is elected by and is accountable to its members.

The governors represent the views of the public and work with the board of directors who remain responsible for day-to-day running of the trust.

It is, therefore, decided locally how best to spend money and investments can meet the specific needs of all the people who use the hospital.

How can you get involved?

Public members must be at least 16 and live in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex or Cambridge. Membership is voluntary and free of charge.

Around 3,500 members are required to go ahead, but Ipswich Hospital is hoping to get nearer 10,000 names signed up.

To register, go to the online application form at www.nhs-membership.co.uk/mrm/trust.php.

Closing date for the application is Tuesday, September 8.

For more information, visit www.ipswichhospital.nhs.uk

Source: The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust

Other public consultations will be taking place at the following dates and locations:

Wednesday, July 15 at The Grand Hall, Hadleigh Guildhall, Hadleigh at 7pm.

Monday, July 20 at Woodbridge Community Centre, Woodbridge at 3pm.

Saturday, August 1 at Felixstowe Leisure Centre, Felixstowe at 11.30am.

Tuesday, August 11 at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre, Stowmarket at 2.30pm.

IPSWICH'S MP Chris Mole has invited a top government minister to the town to address concerns of more than 100 hospital consultants.

Mr Mole said he was unsure why the consultants felt the need to put pen to paper about their worries over plans to lose specialist services at the Heath Road hospital. However he proposed that the next step should be a meeting with health minister Lord Darzi, a consultant surgeon.

The letter, which was written by Richard Watts, chairman of the medical staff committee, on behalf of the consultants, expressed concerns over the removal of head and neck cancer surgery, the plans to lose pancreatic cancer surgery, and proposals to no longer treat many emergency heart attack victims at the hospital. It added that they had no confidence in the “decision-making process”.

Mr Mole said: “I think the hospital management need to have some sort of framework in which the consultants can engage with them.

“I would quite like it if I was able to secure some time from my colleague Professor Darzi who could come and lead a discussion with the consultants. I have contacted his office and it is a matter of finding time in his schedule.

“He would be able to relate to them as clinicians about why the NHS is driving these sorts of changes and understand whatever concerns they have.

“I think we have to work through why it is they are feeling as challenged by this when it applies to similar hospitals across the region who are not experiencing this level of concern for the future. There have been historical rumblings among consultants at Ipswich Hospital about some kind of concern that regional decisions do not go in their favour but it is difficult to base that on any evidence of the decisions that have been made.”

The letter is targeted at the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), which oversees the NHS in six counties.

Lord Darzi, who carried out an NHS review, High Quality Care for All, last year, has just launched a progress report on his plans to restructure the health service, where he has promised to scrap more performance targets and improve the “wellbeing” of NHS staff.

What do you think of Mr Mole's response to the consultants letter? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.