Heart attack victim joins hospital fight

HEART attack victim Robert Holdsworth owes his life to Ipswich Hospital.

Rebecca Lefort

HEART attack victim Robert Holdsworth owes his life to Ipswich Hospital.

He is just one reason why Suffolk must fight health chiefs over plans to take emergency heart attack patients out of county facing journey times of up to two hours for specialist care.

After suffering a major heart attack in 2004 he was taken to the hospital just half a mile from his Woodbridge Road home in Ipswich where medics told him that without treatment he would have died within an hour.

Today he is so worried about plans to take emergency heart attack patients like him out of the county for specialist care that he has taken his battle to the streets and put up a banner in his front garden.

The banner reads: “Keep all heart attacks at Ipswich Hospital for Suffolk people.”

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He hopes to raise the profile of the efforts of The Evening Star, cardiac support group Heartbeat East Suffolk, politicians and thousands of patients who have signed petitions against the proposals which would see emergency heart attack patients taken to either Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Cambridgeshire's Papworth Hospital and Essex's Basildon Hospital for primary angioplasty treatment.

The retired welder said: “If I hadn't been so close to the hospital I wouldn't have made it.

“They gave me the clot-busting drugs and said if I hadn't had them I would have been dead in an hour. I couldn't have wished for better treatment.

“If I have another heart attack that might not happen and I worry that the journey would kill me.

“Because I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Ipswich Hospital I wanted to help the cause.”

The grandfather of eight said his banner had already drawn support from people agreeing with his stand on the controversial issue.

And he added that he hoped health bosses reviewing the decision would listen to Suffolk patients.

He said: “We should get the same care as people in Norwich, not face much longer journeys than them.

“We should be able to treat emergencies at Ipswich Hospital. That is what patients want and they pay for the service and should have their say.”

- Are you taking a stance over plans to treat heart attack patients outside Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The proposals:-

If the proposals get the go ahead emergency patients with life-threatening heart attacks will be treated in three specialist centres, created by the East of England Specialised to Commission Group (SCG).

It says the establishment of the primary angioplasty centres, which offer an improved service than is currently on offer, will save an estimated 50 lives a year in the east of England.

Health bosses also propose that paramedics will no longer be able to give patients life-saving clot busting drugs as they are able to do currently because it interferes with angioplasty. However, the angioplasty is only effective if administered quickly enough.

The plans are currently the subject of a review which was announced just ten days before they were due to be implemented on June 1.

Patients who suffer minor, non-emergency, heart attacks, who would not need clot-busting drugs from paramedics, will still be treated at Ipswich Hospital.

And the Heath Road site will continue to provide other cardiology services and is hoping to expand its cardiology team in the near future, although the emergency treatment changes will cost the hospital about �750,000 in lost revenue yearly.