Help boost heart services - with just �1

HAVE a heart and help fight for Ipswich Hospital.Today The Evening Star launches a vital 'blockbusting' campaign to raise thousands of pounds to bolster the hospital's quest to offer the best level of heart care possible.

HAVE a heart and help fight for Ipswich Hospital.

Today The Evening Star launches a vital 'blockbusting' campaign to raise thousands of pounds to bolster the hospital's quest to offer the best level of heart care possible.

For just �1 each from every person in Ipswich Hospital's catchement area - �350,000 could be raised - enough to pay the yearly salary of more than three consultant cardiologists, which the hospital desperately needs.

The much-loved hospital needs a specialist catheter laboratory (cath lab), high-tech equipment and extra staff so it can begin to treat more complex heart problems on the site, rather than send patients outside the county for treatment.

The efforts of the Star and the public of Suffolk have already resulted in vital changes to controversial plans to set up high-tech centres only in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, where all emergency heart attack patients will be treated.

Because of our campaigning there is a glimmer of hope that Ipswich will be able to set up a primary angioplasty centre and provide life-saving emergency care for heart attack victims at Heath Road.

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So now the Star is going one step further and asking everyone who could one day need the vital treatment to dig deep into their pockets and raise cash for the hospital's cardiac department.

Star editor, Nigel Pickover, said: “This campaign is absolutely vital.

“The whole of Suffolk has been galvanised by the issue of heart attack care.

“People want and deserve the best treatment close to home, so we must fight as hard as possible to set up a specialist centre in Ipswich, including raising funds to make a huge difference.”

Andrew Reed, the chief executive of the hospital, said: “We are absolutely thrilled about the campaign.

“This demonstrates the strong relationship between the hospital and The Evening Star.

“Any money helps, particularly in relation to equipment.”

Mr Reed said the hospital was “cautiously optimistic” about the possibility of setting up a cath lab.

He said work had already begun on planning the set up of the lab and added it could be built within a year if health bodies back the project.

Originally the lab would only treat non-urgent patients, but it could eventually form the basis of creating a primary angioplasty centre, like those set up at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth in Cambridgeshire, and Basildon in Essex.

It is hoped the plan would start to redress the health inequality which means patients in Ipswich will be more likely to die following a heart attack than those in Norwich, simply because they live further away from centres.

To support the campaign send cheques made payable to Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust to Have a Heart, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or donate money in person at the Star's Ipswich offices.

If you want to start fundraising to help us raise as much money as possible for the hospital, let us know about your event by calling The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or email starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

How are you backing the campaign? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Background

THE Evening Star first revealed controversial plans to treat emergency heart attack patients outside of Suffolk in May - less than one month before they were due to come into force.

Health bosses had kept the proposals quiet, despite the fact that many patients self-present to hospital and would need to know where to travel for help.

The decision originally meant that urgent patients would no longer be given clot-busting drugs by paramedics and taken to Ipswich Hospital, but instead dash to centres outside the county, without the possibility of receiving the drugs.

Health bosses decided to set up the primary angioplasty centres at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, and Basildon Hospital in Essex, but not in Suffolk.

They said Ipswich Hospital, which has struggled to recruit consultant cardiologists, did not have the technology or staff to carry out the procedure itself.

But patients, the public, politicians and charities were all horrified by the move which would have seen patients' chances of survival decreasing with every minute.

The outcry led to a review being called for just days before the change had been due to come into place.

Following the study heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle agreed more work needed to be carried out, and that the option of providing the service in Ipswich should be explored.

Because of his review from September 1 patients in east Suffolk will be given clot-busting drugs and taken to one of the three centres as part of a three-month trial. Prof Boyle will then report back again with a final suggestion.

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