Star carries on the fight

YOUR Evening Star is firmly standing up for Ipswich today, and demanding the absolutely best healthcare for the town.

YOUR Evening Star is firmly standing up for Ipswich today, and demanding the absolutely best healthcare for the town.

Since uncovering the scandalous and secretive decision to treat emergency heart attack victims outside the county we have doggedly campaigned against the plans.

Throughout the process we have questioned and challenged health bosses who were determined to implement a controversial system despite overwhelming opposition from the people they were supposed to serve.

And on Sunday evening we gave the public a chance to have their say during the Evening Star-organised debate between Chris Mole, Ipswich's MP, and his Conservative rival, Ben Gummer.

Nearly 200 people turned out on a hot Sunday evening to engage in the event, showing that the town is passionate and engaged about its healthcare.

Mr Mole argued that taking people to specialist primary angioplasty (PPCI) centres which have been set up in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, but not Suffolk, would provide a better level of service than the current system of giving patients clot-busting drugs in the back of ambulances.

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However many of the angry members of the public said that was not good enough and that Ipswich deserved its own centre, including his opponent, Mr Gummer.

Evening Star editor, Nigel Pickover, spoke out at the end of the meeting in favour of creating a PPCI centre in Ipswich, to cheers and shouts of praise from the crowd.

He told the audience at Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House headquarters in Ipswich: “Ipswich must have a PPCI centre of its own. It doesn't have to come overnight but we need to start working towards it.

“I call on Chris Mole to fight for the best for Ipswich Hospital, not just a service that is better.”

Should Ipswich have a PPCI centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail

Patient's view

HEART attack victim Jan Lawrence was one of many angry and worried patients who spoke out during Sunday's debate, challenging Chris Mole on his support for plans to only offer the best care outside Suffolk.

Ms Lawrence, 54, suffered a serious heart attack in April when she was already in Ipswich Hospital's Accident and Emergency Department.

She was given clot-busting drugs and received outstanding, lifesaving care, and now she is healthy once again.

Ms Lawrence, of Bacon Road, Claydon, said: “I actually had the heart attack in A&E which meant they could treat me so quickly, something which wouldn't happen if I had to go to Norwich or Papworth.

“It was so important to treat me quickly because time was so vital. Apparently about 30 per cent of my heart had stopped pumping.

“It was frightening and scary. If I had been told I had to travel I would have been devastated, I think I would have screamed the place down. It was quite clear to me that there was no time to mess around.”

Ms Lawrence, who runs her own company, said she was pleased so many people attended the heart attack debate to put their views across and so hoped their passion would make a difference.

Support for Chris Mole

IPSWICH'S under-fire MP faced a barrage of criticism at the heart attack debate.

There were calls to “bring on the election” and Mr Mole was jeered at points when he was speaking.

But there were also supportive voices from the audience.

Labour's Sandy Martin, an Ipswich and Suffolk councillor for St John's ward in Ipswich, challenged Mr Gummer over the benefits of providing highly specialist care in big regional centres.

Mr Martin told the meeting about a friend of his who suffered a brain haemorrhage and could not be treated at Ipswich Hospital so was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where world-class care saved her life.

He added: “It has always been the case that if you live in Cambridge and you have a haemorrhage you have a better chance of survival then other places.

“Is that a good reason for breaking up services?”

Heart attack debate

Currently emergency heart attack victims are given clot-busting drugs by paramedics or in hospital

The plans would see them instead taken to specialist primary angioplasty centres set up in Norwich, Papworth in Cambridgeshire, and Basildon in Essex

Health bosses at the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group and Strategic Health Authority say primary angioplasty gives people more chance of survival than the drugs

But to be effective any heart attack treatment needs to be given as quickly as possible

In Suffolk patients, politicians and doctors have expressed fears that the long distances people will face for treatment could put them at risk

Chris Mole

Chris Mole is the Labour MP for Ipswich

He is 51 years old

Chris holds a degree in electronics from the University of Kent

He moved to Ipswich in 1981 to work at the BT Laboratories at Martlesham Heath

He became Member of Parliament for Ipswich in November 2001 following a by-election and was re-elected in the 2005 general election

Ben Gummer

Ben Gummer is the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Ipswich

He is 31 years old

He studied at Cambridge University where he got a starred first in history

After university he ran an engineering firm and has recently had a book published

He was selected in August 2007 to fight the Ipswich constituency at the next general election for the Conservative Party