MP calls for decision to be reviewed

IPSWICH'S MP has asked the health secretary to review the decision to scrap head and neck cancer surgery at the town's hospital, it emerged today.

IPSWICH'S MP has asked the health secretary to review the decision to scrap head and neck cancer surgery at the town's hospital, it emerged today.

Chris Mole, the town's representative, has written to Alan Johnson to urge him to use his powers as a government minister to scrutinise the decision.

He asked Mr Johnson to look in particular detail at the effect the move will have on trauma services.

Ipswich Hospital's oral maxillofacial consultant, Huw Davies, has warned that the loss of the surgery to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital could be devastating for Ipswich's ability to provide facial trauma services.


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NHS Suffolk, the county's primary care trust, and the Anglia Cancer Network both voted to move the service from Ipswich to Norwich because they said a centralised service would improve survival rates.

Suffolk's health scrutiny committee could have referred the decision to Mr Johnson but chose not to, despite overwhelming public opposition to the move.

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In Mr Mole's letter, he said: “Throughout the consultation, my primary concern has been about the knock-on effect on trauma services that are currently provided by the same surgeons that provide head and neck cancer services.”

Now the only hope of keeping the life-saving surgery at Ipswich hospital lies with Mr Johnson.

He could use his considerable power to reconsider the move, which has been opposed by 3,000 people who signed an Evening Star petition, patient groups, charities, politicians, clinicians and Sir Bobby Robson, who received state-of-the-art treatment at Ipswich Hospital.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said Mr Johnson's office would not comment on the letter until a reply had been sent to Mr Mole.

Should Chris Mole do more to try to keep head and neck cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The letter in full

Dear Alan,

My local newspaper, the Ipswich Evening Star, has asked me to make representations to you about the recent decision of the Anglia Cancer Network to consolidate head and neck cancer services at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, thereby reducing the level of service on offer at the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust.

I raised this request at this time as the Suffolk County Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee has recently decided not to refer the matter to you.

The Evening Star is asking you to use your position to look again at the decision which they fear could have a knock-on effect on the hospital and has been opposed by more than 3,000 people who signed their petition against the move.

Throughout the consultation, my primary concern has been about the knock-on effect on trauma services that are currently provided by the same surgeons that provide head and neck cancer services.

I understand the Overview and Scrutiny Committee failed to comment on the future of trauma services and the assurances Ipswich Hospital are giving that these will be sustained once the cancer service transfers. I would appreciate your reassurance that maxillofacial trauma services have been properly secured at Ipswich Hospital and your consideration of the request made by the Ipswich Evening Star and its readers.

Yours sincerely

Chris Mole

Member of Parliament for Ipswich

Good news for head and neck cancer sufferers

DESPITE the controversy surrounding head and neck cancer at Ipswich Hospital, there is some good news for patients today.

Ipswich Hospital staff and patients have set up a support group where people affected by the condition can share their difficulties and triumphs.

The group will meet every other month in the lecture theatre at the hospital's Post Graduate Centre.

Amanda Ford, a Macmillan radiotherapy specialist radiographer at the hospital, said: “The group meetings provide an opportunity for patients and carers to meet others in a similar situation.

“I've been working here for almost eight years and have found that a lot more people live through this condition than the public perception - it's helpful for them to be able to share tips and advice.”

Each meeting will host a guest speaker chosen by the patients, followed by a discussion.

The meetings have been given funding by the Somerhsam Ward Support Group and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The first meeting is on Monday, November 3, from 7pm to 9.30pm. The speaker will be Mr Anjan Shah, an Oral And Maxillofacial surgeon, talking about how and why patients should look after their teeth and mouths.

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