Warning over cancer services

PATIENTS could die if a recommendation to scrap head and neck cancer surgery from Ipswich Hospital goes ahead, it has been warned today.David Dyer, chairman of the Ipswich Hospital's cancer services user group, is concerned there could be tragic consequences in the long-term and added that the changes could also cause real distress for patients in the short-term.

PATIENTS could die if a recommendation to scrap head and neck cancer surgery from Ipswich Hospital goes ahead, it has been warned today.

David Dyer, chairman of the Ipswich Hospital's cancer services user group, is concerned there could be tragic consequences in the long-term and added that the changes could also cause real distress for patients in the short-term.

He said if head and neck cancer surgery moves to Norwich, as has been recommended by the Anglia Cancer Network, highly-skilled oral and maxillofacial experts would leave and the hospital may no longer be able to accept facial trauma emergencies.

He said this would mean a road accident victim with facial injuries may spend vital time travelling to a further away Accident and Emergency department, reducing their chances of survival.

Mr Dyer said: “The surgeons who will leave if head and neck cancer surgery goes don't only deal with cancer they deal with trauma and reconstruction.

“Ipswich Hospital currently deals with 30 facial traumas a week and it might not be able to do that.

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“This is very serious for the people of Suffolk. People could die if this happens.”

Mr Dyer also said many former and current head and neck cancer patients had expressed deep worry about the recommended changes.

He added: “Dealing with cancer is always difficult but if they've also got to drive to the Norfolk and Norwich that makes it even harder.

“The whole thing has been done too quickly and it will be absolutely criminal if the proposals go ahead.”

The Anglia Cancer Network has recommended sending all head and neck cancer surgery cases from Ipswich to Norwich in order to comply with national guidelines.

It said better treatment could be provided in specialist centres and that Ipswich Hospital does not treat enough cases of head and neck cancer a year or serve a large enough population to qualify as one of the centres.

Initial diagnosis and follow-up care would still be provided at Ipswich Hospital but concerns have been raised by experts about the impact it would have on the hospital's oral and maxillofacial department.

There is currently a consultation process under way about the changes. For more information visit www.suffolkpct.nhs.uk/Consultations or call Suffolk PCT on 01473 770000.

Are you concerned about head and neck cancer services moving to Norwich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

THE CAMPAIGN>

Anglia Cancer Network (ACN), the body that co-ordinates the development of cancer services across the region want to move head and neck cancer surgery to Norwich to comply with national guidelines.

This guidance suggests that surgery is carried out in centres which serve a population of approximately one million people and treat at least 100 new cases each year, which Ipswich Hospital does not do.

ACN claim that the move will improve services for patients.

But The Evening Star is campaigning to block the move and keep the service at the fantastic oral and maxillofacial department at Ipswich Hospital to prevent ill people and their families having to travel more than 40 miles for their life saving surgery.

The highly skilled staff at the oral and maxillofacial department in Ipswich do wonderful work, not only for cancer patients, but also for people who have been injured in car accidents or injured in other ways.

This could all be under threat if the cancer surgery gets moved.

So sign our petition and let the health bosses of the region know that we want to keep our excellent healthcare in our own town.