MP calls for health investigation

A SUFFOLK MP has today joined the fight to save Suffolk's health service. David Ruffley MP for Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds said he will investigate concerns that huge debts at Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust are the result of massive overspending at Ipswich Hospital and the failure of the Strategic Health Authority to protect the smaller PCTs.

A SUFFOLK MP has today joined the fight to save Suffolk's health service.

David Ruffley MP for Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds said he will investigate concerns that huge debts at Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust are the result of massive overspending at Ipswich Hospital and the failure of the Strategic Health Authority to protect the smaller PCTs.

Mr Ruffley expressed his deep concern over the financial future of Suffolk's primary care trusts and said he is calling for talks with bosses at the Strategic Health Authority and his local PCT as a matter of urgency.

He said he will be investigating claims from his constituents and members of Central Suffolk PCT that the problems they are facing are a result of huge overspending at Ipswich Hospital.


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His call comes just a day after The Evening Star revealed Ipswich MP Chris Mole will be taking his concerns about the state of East Suffolk's health service to government health minister Stephen Ladyman.

Mr Ruffley said: "I have been speaking over several months with people at all levels of the Central Suffolk PCT who say they are furious that they are picking up the tab for huge overspending elsewhere in the county, particularly at Ipswich Hospital.

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"They expected the SHA to protect them and the complaint is that this did not happen.They believe their interests have not been protected.

"Clearly, these are very serious allegations and something I will be investigating as a matter of urgency.

"I think the complaint is that the Strategic Health Authority have not done enough to protect Central Suffolk PCT and the other smaller trusts in east Suffolk."

Mr Ruffley said he was very sad to see former Central Suffolk chief executive Harper Brown removed from his role.

He said: "I thought Harper Brown was an exceptionally capable straight-talking NHS professional. The overspending had nothing to do with him. He was a good manager."

Mr Brown was one of three PCT chief executives replaced by new interim chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown. Ana Selby from Suffolk Coastal PCT and Lesley Watts from Ipswich PCT also lost their jobs.

Mr Ruffley said he understands why the new management structure has been put in place but has concerns about the way things are going, which were highlighted by the resignation of Ipswich PCT chairman Lilian Power.

He said: "We have been led to believe that everything is under control but this recent resignation rather suggests that all is not well.

"We need to streamline the PCTs and we've got to make sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing."

On Tuesday The Evening Star also highlighted new problems with bed capacity at Ipswich Hospital which left ambulances queuing outside the accident and emergency department twice in the past month.

Mr Ruffley has long been involved in campaigning for better ambulance response times and said he was concerned about the fact that ambulances were having to wait outside Ipswich hospital, preventing them from being out and about in the rest of the county.

Mr Ruffley said he would be meeting with Central Suffolk PCT chairman Brian Parrott to discuss his concerns today and would be calling for an urgent meeting with Stewart Francis, the chairman of the Strategic Health Authority, early next week.

A spokesman for the Strategic Health Authority said: "Primary Care Trusts send patients to Ipswich Hospital and they are given money by central government to pay for that treatment.

"The level of charging at Ipswich Hospital is lower than the national average.

"We are quite happy to meet with Mr Ruffley to discuss his concerns."

n. What questions would you like to see answered by the Strategic Health Authority? Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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