Health chief left feeling the heat

ANGER and frustration over the future of Ipswich Hospital boiled to the surface as the region's health chief made a surprise visit, The Evening Star can reveal today.

ANGER and frustration over the future of Ipswich Hospital boiled to the surface as the region's health chief made a surprise visit, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Battle lines were drawn as Sir Neil McKay visited the Heath Road site in the wake of the recent heart care change fiasco - and as another fight for services loomed.

Top management and senior clinicians from the Ipswich institution faced Sir Neil, the chief executive of the East of England Strategic Health Authority, for talks over future plans at the hospital.

Sir Neil travelled from his Cambridge base to the Heath Road hospital to quell the outrage felt over plans to scrap more specialist services and ban the hospital from treating emergency heart attack patients, instead forcing people to travel to other centres across the region.

Sir Neil, who has already apologised for the way distant health bosses failed in consultation over moves to treat all urgent heart victims outside Suffolk, travelled back along the A14 with a very clear view of the unprecedented level of anger, frustration and hurt among the hospital staff.

A senior hospital source said: “He was told firmly that there is a growing sense of unease among staff.

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“There is no doubt that there is groundswell of opinion within the hospital that everyone should now join the fight for the future of Ipswich Hospital.”

Sir Neil was prompted to make the bridge-building trip after The Evening Star uncovered a series of revelations about Suffolk's healthcare that health bosses would have preferred to keep buried - including threats to diabetes care at the hospital, controversial changes to sexual health services and plans to scrap pancreatic cancer surgery.

It also came just days after 200 people attended a crucial debate over heart attack care between Ipswich MP Chris Mole and the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Ben Gummer at a public meeting set up by The Evening Star.

Today the Star's health reporter, Rebecca Lefort, will be taking the battle over Ipswich Hospital to Downing Street, presenting more than 24,000 petitions calling for a re-think of changes to emergency heart attack treatment to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, together with Heartbeat East Suffolk and Mr Gummer.

Rumblings of discontent, conveyed to Sir Neil by both Mr Reed and two of the hospital's most senior clinicians, are growing.

Now NHS managers believe doctors will soon make clear to the public the full scale of their anger and concern.

Mr Reed called in the chair of the medical staff committee, consultant rheumatologist Dr Richard Watts to discuss the growing fury.

Today the Star pledges to keep up its most important fight: to make sure Ipswich Hospital remains a hospital the people of Suffolk can be proud of.

The SHA and Ipswich Hospital were unavailable for comment today.

n Are you concerned by what is going on at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, e-mail or alternatively have your say at

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