Tory health chief’s pledge over hospital heart care

IPSWICH: An incoming Conservative government would give the town’s hospital the right to set up its own specialist heart centre and offer the services to GPs across the county.

That was the pledge made by shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley during a visit to Heath Road to support Ben Gummer’s campaign to win Ipswich for the Conservatives.

Mr Lansley said an incoming Tory government would reduce the powers of NHS Suffolk and the strategic health authority to decide which hospitals would offer which services.

“We would like to see Ipswich Hospital getting full foundation trust status which would mean it would be able to go out to GPs and offer them a service like primary angioplasty if that is what they felt they need.

“My constituency (South Cambridgeshire) includes Papworth and it has taken me an hour and a quarter to get here today. I know how important it is to have services like this nearby.”

Mr Lansley accepted that it was necessary for some specialist services to be concentrated in a few hospitals across the country.

He said: “There is a case for that with very serious trauma patients, bringing specialists together – but not with something like heart treatment which is not that uncommon and needs a quick intervention.”

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Mr Lansley has visited Ipswich Hospital in the past and said he knew staff were very dedicated and had been demoralised by the lack of services over the last few years.

He criticised as “scaremongering” comments by the prime minister that the Conservatives would delay treatment for cancer patients.

Gordon Brown told his party workers in Ipswich yesterday that an incoming Conservative government would scrap the two-week pledge for cancer treatment.

Mr Lansley said: “At the moment we have a pledge that is pretty meaningless because you have to have a consultation whether you have had the result of tests or not.

“I’ve spoken to consultants who tell me that people are being rushed in to see them within the two weeks but they then have to send them away until they have the result of their MRI scans.”

And he said he was keen to ensure there was a change to the way out-of-hours doctors’ services are provided – by getting local GPs more involved.

He said: “There were serious problems with TCN and now that Harmoni has taken over there are still issues that are being faced by patients, especially those in rural areas.

“We want to see out-of-hours services return to local GPs. We don’t want to go back to the situation we had pre-2004 where GPs are responsible for cover 24 hours a day.

“But in other parts of the country – like Devon – they have got together to provide round the clock services and now they providing services elsewhere in the country as far away as St Helens.

n How could health services in Suffolk be improved? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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