Ipswich: 5,000 voices show weight of support for Ipswich Hospital’s stroke service as review throws future of care into spotlight

Sylvia Arnold is pictured at her home in Felixstowe with her petition to save emergency stroke care

Sylvia Arnold is pictured at her home in Felixstowe with her petition to save emergency stroke care at Ipswich Hospital. She is backing the Ipswich Star campaign. - Credit: Archant

MORE than 5,000 people have had their say, showing support for The Star’s Save Our Stroke Care campaign.

Star reporter Lizzie Parry with Hollie Rae Merrick counting the Save our Stroke Care petitions

Star reporter Lizzie Parry with Hollie Rae Merrick counting the Save our Stroke Care petitions - Credit: Archant

People across Ipswich and east Suffolk have shown their support for Ipswich Hospital’s emergency stroke service as a regional review thrusts the future of the unit into the spotlight.

The reorganisation of stroke care aims to create hyper acute stroke units (HASUs) at hospitals across East Anglia.

That process could see Ipswich Hospital miss out on establishing itself as a centre of excellence and result in some stroke patients having to travel to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge or Colchester Hospital.

Experts recognise a stroke patient’s chances of survival and recovery are greatly improved if they are treated at a HASU – following a successful review of stroke care in London and Manchester.

But in Ipswich and east Suffolk the support for a HASU at Ipswich has been overwhelming, with patient’s paying tribute to the exemplary care they have received from the stroke team at the hospital.

Around 1,500 petitions have been sent in to The Star’s offices while dedicated volunteers have spent hours of their own time walking the streets of their communities to urge people to sign and show their support.

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One Felixstowe couple, Sylvia and Colin Arnold have gathered 3,686 signatures so far and have vowed to continue their mission until health chiefs “see sense”.

Their support comes as Ipswich’s MP Ben Gummer calls for a quick decision from health bosses.

Praising the selfless determination of the Arnolds and others, Mr Gummer said their support is invaluable.

“The number of signatures for the petition shows just how strong the feeling is in our community about the need for emergency stroke services at Ipswich Hospital,” he told The Star.

“Having seen the devastating loss that stroke causes, in my own family, I can well understand why people think this is so important.

“I think we are moving in the right direction and I am keen to see the health service make as rapid a decision as possible so we get the stroke super centre here in Ipswich, that we all want to see.”

As part of the review, which began last July, three options are understood to be considered for Suffolk – one of which would see Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds miss out on establishing a centre.

Instead stroke patients would have to travel by ambulance to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge or Colchester for emergency treatment.

The threat comes a year after Ipswich Hospital’s stroke service was held up as an example of excellence to the rest of the region.

An Expert External Advisory Group is understood to be set to suggest three options for Suffolk patients:

n HASUs, providng emergency treatment, at Addenbrooke’s and Colchester with acute services, for rehabilitation, at Ipswich and West Suffolk

n A HASU at Ipswich with acute services at Colchester and West Suffolk

n HASUs at Ipswich and Colchester with an acute service at West Suffolk

A spokeswoman for the county’s clinical commissioning groups stressed decisions about the future of emergency stroke care at Ipswich Hospital have not yet been made.

– What do you think of stroke care at Ipswich Hospital? Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

– Download a version from the dedicated Save Our Stroke Care campaign page – see the link above

– Petitions can be dropped off at The Star’s offices, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich