MP calls for hospital services to stay

SHADOW health minister Mike Penning today called for Ipswich Hospital's facial injuries department to remain in the town.

Naomi Cassidy

SHADOW health minister Mike Penning today called for Ipswich Hospital's facial injuries department to remain in the town.

There are fears that if head and neck cancer surgery is moved from Ipswich Hospital to Norwich, the facial department could also be under threat.

Ben Gummer, the Conservative's parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, invited Mr Penning along to hear people's concerns. The minister met hospital chief executive Andrew Reed and also got a tour of the new Garrett Anderson Centre.

Mr Penning said: “I will be making sure both Mr Gummer and I fight for the facilities to remain at this hospital.

“What worries me about this decision is that we have not been able to get hold of the figures for the outcomes of how good the others are to take patients from here.

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“The people of Ipswich deserve the truth about the outcomes and then we can make a decision.”

Last week Suffolk Primary Care Trust confirmed that it will support the controversial move of head and neck cancer surgery from Ipswich Hospital to Norwich. Its final decision was due to be made at a PCT board meeting today.

During Mr Penning's two-day visit to Ipswich, he also met up with dentists to discuss the problems of overcrowding.

He said: “I was really concerned for the future of NHS dentistry in Ipswich. The policy is untenable and not based on people's dental needs.

“I was immensely impressed by the dedication of the NHS dentists here, which was undaunted.”

He suggested a return of the registration system and also advocated the need to focus on prevention and dental hygiene.

What is your view on these issues? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Health chiefs view:

SUFFOLK Primary Care Trust responded to shadow health minister Mike Penning's concerns by saying: “Leaving aside the debate about head and neck cancer services, the recent consultation has shown that the current service for non cancer head and neck trauma at Ipswich Hospital is fragile and needs greater resilience through better clinical network arrangements with other hospitals.

“The proposal to introduce a joint multi-disciplinary team for cancer services provides an opportunity to strengthen this associated service. Even if the proposed changes to cancer services do not happen, the current arrangements for facial trauma services at Ipswich Hospital will need to be strengthened.

“Turning to dental services, we have committed £1.3m to improve access to general dental services across Suffolk during 2008/09, along with a further £500,000 to improve orthodontic services.

“Following discussions with patients and the public, we have drawn up a set of standards for access to NHS dentistry which will be discussed by the PCT board. These access standards will tell us where we need to invest in new dental services.

“We are also looking into how we can make sure the public know how to access NHS dental services.”