Gummer seeks head and neck answers

TOUGH questions have today been asked of health bosses planning to scrap head and neck cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital.The Evening Star is campaigning to block the move which would see patients facing a 100-mile round trip for operations, and so far more than 2,000 people have signed the petition both online and in the paper.

TOUGH questions have today been asked of health bosses planning to scrap head and neck cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital.

The Evening Star is campaigning to block the move which would see patients facing a 100-mile round trip for operations, and so far more than 2,000 people have signed the petition both online and in the paper.

One of the public figures to back the campaign is Conservative parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, Ben Gummer, who has posed a series of Freedom of Information requests to the Anglia Cancer Network, which is recommending the move, Suffolk Primary Care Trust, which is holding the ongoing consultation, Ipswich Hospital and the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

The questions focus on the financial implication of the move, mortality rates at Ipswich Hospital, the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital and Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, the environmental consequences of the move and the impact of travel on cancer patients.

He has also asked about the way the head and neck cancer patient levels were calculated at the three hospitals, as the controversy over the number of operations carried out continues, with the ACN saying there were 66 at Ipswich Hospital last year and clinicians that there were up to 103.

Today Mr Gummer said: “The NHS powers-that-be have decreed that all this is being done in the interests of patients. Yet they have produced no figures to back up their claims, other than spurious guidelines.

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“Frankly, this has all the hallmarks of a stitch-up. I can't help but feel that this consultation is only paying lip service to the concerns felt by myself and thousands of people across our part of Suffolk.

“If the evidence is there that these cuts will indeed be better for patients, I will be the first to support them.

“It is now up to the health bureaucrats to prove their case.”

A spokesman for the Anglia Cancer Network said: “We are happy to provide Mr Gummer with any information he feels he needs in relation to the proposals for head and neck cancer.

“It is unnecessary for him, however, to submit these requests as we would be keen to brief him on the proposals. We will, however, respond to his requests in accordance with the Freedom of information process.”

What questions would you like to ask health bosses? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.