Gummer urges constituents to fight

SUFFOLK Coastal MP John Gummer today urged people to put pen to paper - and complain bitterly about the proposed changes to treatment for victims of serious heart attacks.

SUFFOLK Coastal MP John Gummer today urged people to put pen to paper - and complain bitterly about the proposed changes to treatment for victims of serious heart attacks.

Mr Gummer and NHS Suffolk representatives are due to cross-question the expert who will be reviewing the new treatment system on June 18 and he wants to show the concern of the public.

“I want everyone to sign the petitions against these changes but most of all I want people to write letters because it's letters that authorities take notice of,” said Mr Gummer.

“I want to be able to impress upon the people behind this the seriousness of the anger of those who live in this area.

“I want to be able to put on the table a big pile of hundreds of letters and would urge people to write to me at the House of Commons as soon as possible.”

The changes - which will involve some emergency heart attack victims not being taken to Ipswich Hospital but instead to Norwich, Papworth or Basildon - are on hold while there is a review, but Mr Gummer is convinced the strategic health authority wants to bring them in before the end of the month.

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He told a meeting of more than 120 people in St Felix Hall, Gainsborough Road, Felixstowe, that at the very least there should be a dual system running for a year - with patients taken for angioplasty but with paramedics, in consultation by radio with doctors en route, allowed to give clot-busting drugs if it was felt this would improve a patient's chances of survival.

“Then at the end of that year what we should have is an independent assessment to look at the effects and see what should happen next and the dual system should continue during that assessment,” he said.

“We all know what the A14 is like and we need a year to look at it in all circumstances - when it is closed because of an accident, when traffic is going to Portman Road, when the lorries are all trying to reach Felixstowe port.”

Mr Gummer criticised the SHA's decision to go against the nationally agreed 120 minutes maximum for patients to reach one of the new treatment centres and said Felixstowe, and some other parts of east Suffolk, were right on the edge for the 165 minutes being permitted.

Mr Gummer will be holding another public meeting in Woodbridge on Friday at 5pm in the Methodist Church.

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FORMER Felixstowe mayor and heart attack victim Andy Smith said he and his family would have been caused immense stress had he been taken the 80 miles to Papworth.

“My symptoms were quite mild and it was only when I was in the ambulance and we were heading for Ipswich Hospital that the paramedics suddenly decided I needed serious care,” said Mr Smith, a town and district councillor.

“They put the blue lights on and off we went. My wife Gill was in the car behind and thankfully knew where we were going as we headed off into the distance.

“She arrived at Ipswich only a few minutes after I did and my children were there in about 15 minutes.

“If the ambulance I was in had been heading for Papworth she wouldn't have had a clue - she might as well have been heading for the moon - and the children couldn't have got there so quick either.

“That would have put huge stress on my family and also on myself at a very distressing and worrying time.”

Mr Smith, who later had a bypass, said angioplasty was not always a magical and reliable cure.

“I was told, that didn't work, you'll need a bypass. Where would I have been if that was on the day of my heart attack and I was three or four hours into my golden hour?” he said.

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