Heart treatment among best in country

DON'T rip apart such an excellent service.

DON'T rip apart such an excellent service.

That is the message from health campaigners today after it emerged that Ipswich Hospital's heart attack care is currently among the best in the country.

Medical data collected nationally reveals that the Heath Road hospital was ranked third for treating heart attacks in a study of death rates nationwide.

But from June 1 emergency heart attack patients will bypass Ipswich for their life-saving care and instead face a race for life in the back of an ambulance to get to Norwich, Papworth or Basildon, where specialist primary angioplasty centres have been set up.

The move, planed by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group, will see heart patients who need urgent care no longer given clot-busting drugs by paramedics and treated at Ipswich's own centre of excellence.

The change will cost the hospital about �750,000 in revenue, and also its reputation as a leading heart attack centre.

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Health campaigner Prue Rush said: “I have huge concerns and I can't believe they have done this to Ipswich Hospital.

“Currently the heart attack treatment by paramedics and Ipswich Hospital is absolutely brilliant.

“If they take the specialist service away staff will de-skill and the people who want to work at top centres will travel to the other units. It is really demoralising.

“Health bosses are saying they will wait and see and study what happens with the changes. But how many people have to die before they decide it's not the right move?

“There is no consultation or discussion with the patients who will actually see the service change. They are not listening to us.

“We just seem to be treated as a Cinderella county and there seems to be an agenda to virtually downgrade Ipswich Hospital.

“It is a great hospital, but it seems to be getting a good kicking.”

What do you think about 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.

Hospital's view

IPSWICH Hospital is rightly proud of its current care of heart attack victims.

And Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman, said it was determined to maintain its excellent reputation.

She pointed out that people with non life-threatening heart attacks would still be treated at Ipswich Hospital, and follow-up care would still be provided locally.

She said: “We have a very good, vibrant and growing cardiology department. We are very very proud of the services we provide.

“We understand completely that we are not in a position to request to become a specialist heart attack centre now.

“We feel confident that all the clinicians who took the decision were well aware of all the facts (including Ipswich Hospital's rank as third best for heart attack treatment).

“These are decisions based on national best practice.”

Join the fight

JOIN the fight to keep emergency heart attack care in Suffolk.

That is the call today from The Evening Star.

Health bosses want to treat patients in specialist primary angioplasty centres in Norwich, Papworth or Basildon, a move they claim will save 50 lives a year in the East.

But patient groups are concerned that the decision leaves the lives of people of Suffolk in the hands of the A140, A14 or A12.

Heart tissue starts to die 15 minutes after a heart attack hits, so speed of treatment is vital, and clinicians have admitted that people in Suffolk will be at greater risk because they live so far from the centres.

The Star, which uncovered the proposals in the board papers of the little-known health body, the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group, is demanding that the decision is subject to a full public consultation rather than being allowed to sneak through on June 1.

Nigel Pickover, the Star editor, said: “Ipswich Hospital has a fantastic state-of-the-art emergency department, which is rated among the best in the country.

“It is completely ludicrous to rush people in the middle of the night past our own hospital.

“We accept some specialist care has to be provided in super-centres, but quite simply all emergency patients expect and should receive urgent care at Ipswich Hospital.

“We plan to fight the move, and call for a public inquiry, so the paper-pushing health bureaucrats are forced to listen to the people of Suffolk.”