Heart review must not ignore rural areas

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.

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 have major concerns that many residents will face a race against time to get to Papworth, Norwich or Basildon hospitals in the 165-minute maximum to reach surgeons.

Suffolk Coastal District 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 consultation on them.

Cabinet member Sherrie Green said: “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.

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

“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-minute target time.

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“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.”

Mrs Green said 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.

“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,” she added.

Health bosses say the proposed changes for heart attack treatment have been put on hold while the review takes place.

They claim the introduction of the specialist centres would improve the current heart attack health services.

Should Ipswich Hospital also be a specialist heart attack care centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole today reiterated his defence of the controversial heart attack proposals.

His backing to the move comes after a meeting at Suffolk NHS offices with several key healthcare figures, including clinicians and managers from Ipswich Hospital, Suffolk NHS and the Strategic Health Authority.

He said: “It is clear that these proposals do not compromise Ipswich Hospital's service as the transfer of patients to a specialist centre of excellence for angioplasty will only happen for the quarter of patients who have the ST elevated MI form of heart attack and the majority of these are currently treated before they get to hospital with a clot busting drug.

“There is no doubt in any of the clinicians' minds that patients treated in a PPCI centre will have a lower mortality rate, and are much less likely to suffer a repeat heart attack or stroke.

“As with other specialist treatments a centre of excellence is only viable if a sufficient number of patients are seen and a fourth PPCI at Ipswich is not only unviable, but would undermine the effectiveness of the other three centres.

“The review of the proposals by Professor Boyle must be a thorough-going engagement with everyone with a genuine interest in the best outcomes for patients.

“If the clinical audit suggests any problem with the new service, I will be the first to call for it to be withdrawn.”