Secrecy fear over heart discussion

SECRECY will surround the debate over heart attack care in Suffolk, it emerged today.

SECRECY will surround the debate over heart attack care in Suffolk, it emerged today.

National heart tsar, Professor Roger Boyle, has been called in to the county to quell outrage over plans to treat emergency heart attack patients in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire or Essex.

But although Prof Boyle will be engaging with patients, politicians and charity groups at some points, much of his day-long review will be held in secret.

The event on Thursday will give little opportunity for the views and fears of Evening Star readers to be presented as the body which is presenting Prof Boyle with an analysis of the media coverage and public reaction is not the Star - which revealed the changes - but the East of England Strategic Health Authority, which wants to push the move through.

And when he discusses the plans with clinicians from Ipswich Hospital and other medics it will be firmly behind closed doors, so the public will not get a full understanding of the medical arguments surrounding the decision.

In these key meetings there will be dozens of health managers from throughout the East of England, many of whom were heavily involved in the decision and have been actively trying to push it through.

Most Read

But the Star has been barred from attending, so we can not report back to the public on the vital discussions that will make or break heart attack services in Suffolk.

A spokesman for the East of England Strategic Health Authority, which has organised the review process, defended the decision to close the meeting to the public.

He said: “This is a clinical discussion. There are going to be clinicians talking about clinical issues and exchanging clinical views.”

However the Star has continued to fight the proposals and will be presenting Prof Boyle with a dossier explaining in detail why Ipswich needs its own specialist heart attack centre.

Those meeting Prof Boyle have been preparing what they will be saying to him.

John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: “I'm going to say to Professor Boyle that there is a very very considerable concern and I shall be showing him the very large number of letters I have already got, and pointing to the large number of signatures on our petition.

“The first thing is to bring it home to him that this is not something that can be easily brushed aside. We feel at the very least that we should keep the pre-hospital thrombolysis available in the ambulances so that when they trial the new system, if they cannot get to the hospital in time, they can be used.

Anne Nicholls, chairwoman of Suffolk PCT Interim Lay Advisory group, said: “It would seem PPCI centres probably provide a better treatment than thrombolysis and if it can be given properly, it may well save lives.

“The problem of course is the decision having been made to take this out of Suffolk. The A140, A12 and A14 are dreadful roads. Are people going to die in the ambulance on the way to these centres?”

Ipswich MP Chris Mole said he has already met Professor Boyle to discuss his views.

He said: “I am keen to ensure Professor Boyle is able to address the issues that have been raised by patient groups and others but particularly to evidence that there should be no concern from Ipswich people about the proposals.

“It should be made clear that Ipswich people should not have the concerns that people on the coastal margins might have.

“I raised with him some of the issues about fallback arrangements in exceptional circumstances which include ambulance thrombolysis drugs. I think for public reassurance they should be carried in the ambulances for the first year.”

Should the public be able to discover the views of clinicians over heart attack changes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail