New health boss backing hospital’s heart pledge

SUFFOLK: The county’s newest health boss today indicated he would back Ipswich Hospital’s pledge to set up a new heart centre,

Dr Paul Watson started this week as chief executive of NHS Suffolk, taking over from Carole Taylor-Brown, who left due to health reasons.

And yesterday he claimed to understand the concerns patients have about travelling out of the county for emergency heart treatment.

The trained doctor gave his backing in principle to Ipswich Hospital setting up a catheter lab, where those who need elective angioplasty (specialist heart care) can be treated.

The Evening Star has set up its Have A Heart Appeal to raise money towards buying equipment in the unit. Patients currently have to go to Papworth Hospital for this treatment.

It is hoped that once the lab is established, Ipswich can have its own Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PPCI) for emergency angioplasty.

Last year, a controversial decision was made to send patients to centres in Basildon, Norwich and Papworth.

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National heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle ordered a trial to allow experts to study survival rates and journey times ahead of a final assessment, expected to be revealed in January 2011.

In May last year, when Dr Watson was director of strategic commissioning for the Strategic Health Authority, he admitted those living in areas closest to the PPCI centres would have a better chance of survival than east Suffolk patients.

Dr Watson said: “Professor Boyle is going to come back and give us his recommendations.

“I can understand the concerns. Norwich, Basildon and Papworth are a long way away.”

Regarding the elective lab at Ipswich, Dr Watson said: “We will see what Professor Boyle comes back with, but in principle it seems like the sensible thing to do.”

On Dr Watson’s first day in the job, he visited Ipswich Hospital and met senior staff. He added: “It was one of my priorities to visit both general hospitals in the region. I strongly support Ipswich Hospital.

He said one of the biggest issues he will face over the next two years is the organisational change, following the government’s health reforms to scrap primary care trusts and strategic health authorities in favour of GP-managed budgets.

n Nearly �25,000 has been raised for the Have A Heart Appeal.

To support the ‘Have a Heart’ appeal, send cheques made payable to Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust to Have a Heart, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or you can donate money in person at the Evening Star’s Ipswich offices.