Stormy debate over heart attack care

IPSWICH has made its voice heard over heart attack care during a heated debate about the best way to save Suffolk lives.

Rebecca Lefort

IPSWICH has made its voice heard over heart attack care during a heated debate about the best way to save Suffolk lives.

During last night's Evening Star heart attack confrontation Chris Mole, Ipswich's MP, faced a barrage of criticism from the public, while his opponent, Conservative parliamentary candidate, Ben Gummer, was given a positive reaction from the crowd.

There were frequent shouts and jeers from the audience, which was mostly hostile to the Labour politician's argument that by taking Ipswich emergency heart attack patients to specialist primary angioplasty (PPCI) centres in Norwich, Papworth in Cambridgeshire, or Basildon in Essex, they would receive a better standard of care than currently on offer.

Mr Mole and Mr Gummer both spoke eloquently and passionately during the open debate at Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House in Russell Road, with nearly 200 people listening to the arguments.

Mr Gummer argued that a specialist PPCI centre should also be set up in Ipswich - which health bosses say is unfeasible - so people have the same access to high-quality care wherever they live.

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Mr Mole said: “You've got to make the decision whether you want to have the best clinical procedures for your loved ones, or whether you're going to worry about where the care will take place.

“We can't have everything everywhere and you're kidding yourself if you think you can.”

Mr Gummer told the audience: “I agree that PPCI is better, that is why we want a centre here in Ipswich.

“Ipswich is not the Outer Hebrides, we deserve the best care.”

Mr Gummer also faced questions and was challenged over the practicalities of providing specialist and complex care in smaller centres.

The debate, which was chaired by former Suffolk fire chief, Malcolm Alcock, came a week before Professor Roger Boyle, the national heart tsar, is due to report back on his review of heart attack care in Suffolk.

Prof Boyle has been tasked with studying the best way to deliver urgent heart attack care after an outcry from patients and the public about plans to treat them outside the county.

He will return to Ipswich next Monday to give his verdict.

Did you enjoy the debate? Should politicians engage with the public in open conversation more frequently? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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

DEMOCRACY was seen in action as politics truly came to the people last night.

Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House headquarters is used to seeing debates as it hosts regular council meetings, but rarely has it seen as much passion as yesterday's event.

Audience members spoke from the heart about their fears, while both Mr Mole and Mr Gummer gave impassioned, articulate and reasoned speeches explaining their thinking.

One former patient, Jan Lawrence, 54, who had a serious heart attack in April, said: “If I hadn't been treated by Ipswich Hospital I wouldn't have pulled through.”

Others who had also been affected by heart attacks told their stories, and so many of the nearly 200 people in the audience wanted to ask questions that some had to be given slips to put their questions on, which will now be followed up by The Evening Star.

Mr Mole said: “It is good to see so many people here at a time when people often comment it is difficult to get public engagement.”

While Mr Gummer added: “What is wonderful is that this debate shows this town can stand up for itself and when we need to, we will fight.”