Heart dash drama could have ended in tragedy

QUESTION marks over heart care surfaced AGAIN today - after medics were forced to abort a road dash to Papworth when a patient's condition rapidly deteriorated.

Josh Warwick

QUESTION marks over heart care surfaced AGAIN today - after medics were forced to abort a road dash to Papworth when a patient's condition rapidly deteriorated.

The Evening Star has learned that an ambulance destined for a specialist primary angioplasty centre (PPCI) was forced to return to Ipswich Hospital before even leaving the Heath Road site on its lengthy journey to Cambridgeshire.

The 68-year-old patient's heart stopped as paramedics reached A&E at Heath Road - only for hero doctors to revive him.

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The November 14 horror story is sure to fuel criticism of controversial measures introduced in Suffolk which mean those suffering serious heart attacks face an ambulance dash to specialist centres in Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

And it follows the case of a woman in her 80s who died after being diverted back to Ipswich when an initial transfer to Papworth was abandoned.

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The original plans, formulated by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG), proposed patients should not be given clot-busting drugs during the journey.

Thousands have blasted the moves, with campaigners claiming Suffolk is fast becoming the poor relation of East Anglia in terms of healthcare and hospital provision.

More than 24,000 signatures were collected in a petition produced by The Evening Star, prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives Ben Gummer, and Heartbeat East Suffolk.

The public outcry forced health bosses to order a trial into the proposals, conducted by heart expert Professor Roger Boyle.

Statistics obtained by The Star have revealed 12 patients from East Suffolk have been taken to specialist heart centres in the last three months.

Simon Griffith from the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group said: “Clinicians at the Ipswich hospital diagnosed a patient as having an ST Elevation myocardial infarction.

“After being thrombolysed (agreed protocol for East Suffolk patients) by the hospital clinicians he was judged stable to transfer to a specialist heart attack centre for PPCI (emergency primary angioplasty) treatment.

“The ambulance service collected the patient and departed for Papworth Hospital. As the ambulance was about to leave the hospital site the patient experienced a further cardiac arrest, the patient was resuscitated successfully on the ambulance and returned to Ipswich A&E.

“The patient was stabilised and accompanied by a nurse from the hospital on the journey to Papworth Hospital where the patient was successfully treated. The patient is now recovering well.

“All of the agreed protocols around specialist treatment for heart attack for people in East Suffolk, were followed by all involved.”

- Should Suffolk have its own PPCI centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

How you can help:-

- The Evening Star has raised more than �16,600 has been raised for its Have A Heart Appeal to help set up a catheter laboratory at Ipswich Hospital. The lab will initially be used to treat non-urgent heart operations but could eventually be expanded into a specialist primary angioplasty centre.

To support the 'Have a Heart' appeal send cheques made payable to Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust to Have a Heart, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or donate money in person at the Star's Ipswich offices.

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