Heart trial results could be held back until next year

SUFFOLK: Results of a controversial road-dash heart attack trial may not be revealed until next year.

Last year controversial measures to take emergency heart attack victims in Suffolk to specialist Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PPCI) centres at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth in Cambridge and Basildon in Essex were introduced by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group.

Due to massive public outcry combined with The Evening Star’s Have a Heart appeal, national heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle ordered a trial scheme to take place to allow experts to study survival rates and journey times ahead of a final assessment.

It started in September and was originally meant to last for three months – however it is now likely to be extended to a full year, up to August 31, which means the results of the trial may not be revealed until January.

In a verbal report to the NHS Suffolk board yesterday, Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning, explained that in the six months since the trial in East Suffolk began, 45 patients have suffered serious heart attacks, known as Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction or STEMIs.

Of these, 13 were not eligible for the clot-busting drugs and therefore were taken to the specialist centres to be given emergency PPCI.

The other 32 patients were given the clot-busting drugs and then taken to the centres to be given angioplasty treatment within 24 hours.

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The data shows the majority of patients were taken to Papworth, a larger number than expected were taken to Basildon and a few cases to Norwich.

Mrs Dowling said extending the trial to a year would enable the data to fairly reflect all conditions, from the extreme winter weather to the hot weather and influx of tourists.

“The numbers are very small when you look at the geography,” said Mrs Dowling.

“We are going to recommend Professor Boyle takes a formal decision to undertake the pilot for a 12-month period until the end of August.

“We wanted to ask his advice about whether this is enough time for him to reach a conclusion.”

If Professor Boyle agrees to this extension, by the time the data is properly collated and analysed, it could be January before any decision is made on the future of heart services in Ipswich.

During this period, ambulance paramedics will continue to give patients the clot-busting drugs where necessary.

n The Star’s Have a Heart appeal aims to raise awareness and help raise funds to set up a catheter laboratory at Ipswich Hospital where planned angioplasty could be carried out.

Once this is in place, it is hoped the hospital would be in a better position to get a PPCI centre.

n 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 you can donate money in person at the Evening Star’s Ipswich offices.

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