New doubt over heart figures

CONTROVERSY today surrounds figures health bosses used in the debate over heart attack care in Suffolk.

CONTROVERSY today surrounds figures health bosses used in the debate over heart attack care in Suffolk.

When presenting evidence to the heart tsar, Professor Roger Boyle, during his review the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA) claimed there were just 269 'STEMI' heart attacks - the most serious kind - in Suffolk in 2008.

But actually there were 359, a figure which gives much more weight to the arguments in favour of setting up a specialist heart attack centre in Ipswich.

The discrepancy is between the number who were diagnosed with 'STEMI' attacks immediately - just 269 - rather than the total number who did have a STEMI attack but were diagnosed later - 359.

This also means that 90 patients would have been taken to hospital before medics realised they actually had a life-threatening heart attack and were whisked off to specialist centres in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire or Papworth - making their chance of being treated quickly enough even slimmer.

The Evening Star and Ben Gummer, the future Conservative parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, have been campaigning for a specialist primary angioplasty centre to be set up in Ipswich, so emergency victims do not face long journeys for treatment.

Most Read

Health bosses say centres should treat at least 200 STEMI patients a year, and more if possible.

After learning of the selective use of figures by the SHA Mr Gummer said: “This is hardly surprising. From the very beginning the SHA has given a very selective - and at times almost misleading - interpretation of the statistics.

“As ever, it seems that the numbers are being fixed to suit their cost agenda, not to make truly informed decisions about how to provide the best possible health service for the people of Ipswich."

A spokesman for the SHA said: “We are using the figure of 'diagnosis on admission' because that is when the decision is made of how to treat a patient. If things change then the patient pathway would alter accordingly.

“Obviously if there is an intervening stage it would lengthen the treatment time.”

Should Ipswich get its own specialist heart attack centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail