Heart patients face race against time

A PROFESSOR reviewing treatment of emergency heart attack victims in Suffolk was today urged to ensure he takes account of the “rural realities” of the county.

Richard Cornwell

A PROFESSOR reviewing treatment of emergency heart attack victims in Suffolk was today urged to ensure he takes account of the “rural realities” of the county.

Community leaders are seriously worried many residents will face a race against time to get to Papworth, Norwich or Basildon hospitals in the 165 minutes maximum to reach surgeons.

Suffolk Coastal council wants Professor Roger Boyle - who is reviewing the proposed changes to treatment and decision not to send patients to Ipswich Hospital - to make the results of his findings public and for there to be public consultation on them.

“He has emphasised that 'geography will have a strong influence' on how services are organised and I call on him to examine closely the particular issues facing some of our more remote areas in this district,” said cabinet member Sherrie Green.

“As Prof Boyle wrote in his Mending Hearts and Brains report, for heart attacks 'treatment is a race against time'.

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“Our very real concern is that because of the rural nature of our district, significant hurdles will be put in place in that race for our residents to get treatment within the 165 minutes target time.

“From areas like Walberswick, Orford and many of our eastern communities, an ambulance is going to be struggling to get to Basildon on time, and that is without the routine delays that occur on the A14 or A12.

“We will be happy to offer our local knowledge to Prof Boyle to help ensure his review takes in all the relevant facts.”

Mrs Green felt there was much more the primary care trust (PCT), NHS Suffolk and Prof Boyle, national director for heart disease and stroke, needed to explain to the public about the proposed changes, which are on hold while the review takes place.

“I hope the review will throw light on why our PCT appears not to want to offer these specialist services in Suffolk,” she said.

“While I appreciate that resources are not unlimited, if Norwich can offer such a service for the 500,000 living in central Norfolk, surely there should be something here in our county for our population of 850,000.

“Prof Boyle has previously put a great emphasis on the importance of local decision-making in determining where these services should be. Our PCT also stresses the importance of consultation and involving local people in decisions about services. I hope both will now ensure that there will be a proper public consultation on the future of heart attack services in our county.

“There needs to be an opportunity for the public to have its input and have detailed answer to their very real concerns. These are their services under discussion and it is only right that they should have a full voice in the decisions about them.”