Ipswich MP admits heart care 'lottery'

IPSWICH'S under-fire MP has today admitted that a postcode lottery in heart attack care would be created if controversial proposals go ahead.

Rebecca Lefort

IPSWICH'S under-fire MP has today admitted that a postcode lottery in heart attack care would be created if controversial proposals go ahead.

Labour's Chris Mole said he realised local people would be less likely to survive a heart attack than those in Norwich under plans to move treatment for serious heart attacks out of Suffolk - an inequality of care already revealed by The Evening Star.

But he insisted that treating emergency heart attack patients in specialist centres at Norwich, Papworth and Basildon, would provide the best possible treatment, because they would give a better level of care, and said it was not possible to set up a centre in Ipswich or Colchester.

Mr Mole's defence of his position came as the number of signatures on petitions against the move, which would see all urgent heart attack victims no longer treated in the county, reached around 20,000.

He said: “I'm not surprised so many people have signed petitions because I don't think people have had explained to them what the significant benefits of the new arrangements would be.

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“People are worried that they are going to get something which is worse for them, and whilst I might understand people in Aldeburgh or Felixstowe having concerns, nobody in Ipswich should feel that.

“People in Ipswich will have a much better chance of survival if they go to the new centres.”

Clinicians all agree that the new primary angioplasty centres provide a better standard of care - but only if patients get there in time. And they also agree that as journey times go up, death rates increase.

Mr Mole said he fully understood that this would leave the people he represents with less of a chance of surviving a heart attack than those in Norwich, but added: “That is something which is an unavoidable outcome of having centralised specialist services. You can't just spend more money and set up a fourth centre.”

He said there were not enough cardiologists at Ipswich Hospital or a large enough population to support a centre in the town.

But he said he agreed with supporters who wanted the option of giving clot-busting injections to patients to remain as a failsafe in case they did not make it to a centre in time.

He added: “This has been hugely uncomfortable for me as an MP. I've spent hours reading about it and talking to experts and I believe this is the best for my constituents.”

Should Chris Mole change his view on heart attack care? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

HEALTH bosses have been strongly criticised at a public meeting for pushing through plans to treat all Suffolk's emergency heart patients outside the county.

At a quickly-arranged meeting in Aldeburgh on Saturday more than 50 people listened to Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer's concerns about the plans.

He said: “You should not change a system so dramatically without keeping the old system running by its side originally to make sure it works.

“We have to review the situation independently after a year but the back-up must be in place during that time.”

Mr Gummer will also be holding meetings today in Felixstowe's St Felix Church Hall at 5pm. There will be another public meeting in Woodbridge on Friday at 5pm in the Methodist Church.