Ipswich: Heart care fight goes on

SUFFOLK: We are halfway to ensuring top quality heart services come to Ipswich... but the fight goes on!

Ipswich Hospital looks set to get a new centre to treat non-emergency heart attack cases, saving patients lengthy journeys across the region.

Setting up a specialist centre in Ipswich where emergency heart attack patients can get treatment remains the aim of the Star’s Have a Heart campaign, however it is understood national heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle may not give his backing to this in a briefing on Monday.

There was outrage in May last year when a decision was made to take emergency heart attack victims (those who suffer a particular type of severe heart attack) in Suffolk on a road-dash to get treatment outside of the county at specialist Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention centres (PPCI) in Norwich, Cambridge and Basildon.

In September Professor Boyle, the National Director for Heart Disease and Stroke, ordered a trial scheme to allow experts to study survival rates and journey times ahead of a final assessment.

On Monday he is due to deliver his year-long findings to a group of health professionals and interested parties. The Star understands he will recommend patients continue to be taken to centres outside the county.

In a briefing note to those invited, Tracy Dowling, NHS Suffolk director of strategic commissioning, stated: “He (Prof Boyle) is returning to Suffolk on December 13 to deliver the findings from a year-long study of journey times in east Suffolk, and his recommendations about future heart attack services.”

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Nigel Pickover, editor of The Evening Star, said: “We promised we would never let go. Now with NHS Suffolk counting down to winding up and Ipswich Hospital approaching Foundation Trust, it is utterly right we are repeating our clear objective of getting a PPCI centre in Ipswich. Norwich has one, Basildon has one, Cambridge has one. Ipswich must have one. End of.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who was heavily involved in the campaign at the time, said: “We have been promised this new heart unit and I will continue to fight to ensure people keep their word. This really is vital if Ipswich Hospital is going to remain a centre of excellence serving our town.”

Tony Ramsey, Heartbeat spokesman, added: “I think it is very important for patients in this area so they can have angioplasty in Ipswich without having to take the journey to Papworth.”