Heart services victory - but we fight on

THE Evening Star and Suffolk patients can today claim victory - part one!

Rebecca Lefort

THE Evening Star and Suffolk patients can today claim victory - part one!

Our fast-moving campaign against shambolic and ill-thought-out plans to treat emergency heart attack patients outside Suffolk has forced health bosses to review the decision.

More than 1,000 people have so far signed our petition calling for a consultation into the move, which will see emergency heart attack patients taken to specialist heart attack centres in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, rather than given clot-busting drugs by paramedics.

Today it seems health bosses have finally taken note and have ordered a two to three week review, meaning the changes will not go ahead as planned on June 1.

The East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA), which held its board meeting in Cambridge yesterday, has asked heart tsar, Professor Roger Boyle, to urgently review the plans.

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The move is a partial victory; however the Star will continue to push for a full consultation, particularly because Professor Boyle, who will be conducting the review alone, was involved in the original decision.

At yesterday's meeting Dr Paul Watson, the SHA's director of commissioning, said: “There has been a great deal of public anxiety in east Suffolk and concerns that patients are having to travel considerable distances to Norwich.

“It is important to note that the provision will offer patients better clinical outcomes. But we do accept there is anxiety and for that reason we are going to ask Professor Boyle to review the implementation in east Suffolk.”

NHS Suffolk, which buys and plans healthcare in Suffolk, said it expected Professor Boyle to look at the implementation arrangements for the new service and the overall provision of primary angioplasty in the area and coronary angioplasty services at Ipswich Hospital.

Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of NHS Suffolk, said: “PPCI (primary angioplasty centres) have been clinically proven to be the most effective treatment for severe heart attacks.

“However, we understand people's concerns that its introduction will mean patients being taken to hospitals outside the area.

“We therefore feel it right to ask the country's leading expert to review the plans so that he can give people the reassurance that they are seeking.”

- Are you pleased there will be a review? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Politician's view:-

IPSWICH'S Conservative parliamentary candidate, Ben Gummer, who has been campaigning against the plans to treat heart attack patients outside Suffolk, said: “I'm really pleased that the SHA is at least starting to listen to the people of Ipswich and Suffolk.

“They now need to consider three things.

“Firstly the independence of the review procedure they have promised.

“Secondly, a proper consultation of the local people in which they can present their evidence as forcibly as they have done to me.

“And thirdly a full vision of what they want from Ipswich Hospital, because I am completely unconvinced that people in Ipswich are not in the long term going to get a worse health service than someone living close to one of the mega hospitals they are building up.

“But let's celebrate this. It shows that together The Evening Star, local politicians and concerted action by the community can produce results, so let's keep going.”