Ipswich: Home is where the heart care should be

IPSWICH: Forced to wait another two months before she can have a vital heart operation, single mum Sarah Riley has been told the reason for the delay is a high number of patients needing treatment at Papworth Hospital.

The Cambridgeshire hospital is the region’s base for elective, routine heart surgery and patients from across Suffolk are forced to travel for more than an hour for appointments because there is currently no provision at Ipswich Hospital.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mrs Riley, who has a two-year-old daughter Jessica, is today backing the Star’s Have A Heart campaign, to bring a specialist heart centre to Ipswich Hospital.

Speaking from her home in Bulstrode Road, Ipswich, Mrs Riley said since she was diagnosed with the condition Wolff-Parkinson-White around three years ago when she was pregnant with Jessica, she has had to travel back and forth to Papworth for operations and appointments.

“My condition means my heart rate can suddenly race, reaching up to 250 beats a minute,” she said. “In the last four to five months I have been taken into Ipswich Hospital eight times after collapsing.

“I was last in Papworth in November and was told I would have my second operation by the end of this month. But having called to check this week I was told they ‘can’t cope with the capacity of work’ and waiting lists have gone up from 12 to 18 weeks.

“If they have so many patients to see, surely that supports the argument for a heart centre in Ipswich.”

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Mrs Riley said as a single mum who can’t drive, making the trip to Papworth, which is more than 66 miles away, is “very difficult”.

She added that it is “vital” that plans for an elective heart centre, known as a PCI centre are put in motion as soon as possible.

“This is my quality of life,” she said. “It affects my daughter’s quality of life and there are hundreds of other patients and families like us.

“Why can’t bosses in the NHS step in and make this happen now? We need this centre in Ipswich.”

A spokeswoman for Papworth Hospital said: “Papworth Hospital carries out approximately 2,000 open-heart operations each year, and is expecting this to increase to around 2,300 over the next couple of years.

“A very high number of transplant operations in recent months has meant that we have had to reduce the number of less urgent operations, and hence waiting times have marginally increased. We are continuing to increase the number of nurses required to treat these additional patients, and we expect to see waiting times reduce.”

n What do you think of the plans? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk