Warnings over Suffolk cancer care

CAMPAIGNERS have warned that possible changes to cancer care in Suffolk will lead to an exodus of specialists and equipment.David Dyer, chair of Ipswich Hospital cancer services users group, said trauma care for head and neck patients could be moved to Norwich as well.

CAMPAIGNERS have warned that possible changes to cancer care in Suffolk will lead to an exodus of specialists and equipment.

David Dyer, chair of Ipswich Hospital cancer services users group, said trauma care for head and neck patients could be moved to Norwich as well.

NHS East of England is considering moving specialist surgery for head and neck cancer patients from Ipswich Hospital to Norwich.

But it insists that head and neck services will not cease at Ipswich Hospital.


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Mr Dyer said trauma services would be run down and that money and technical equipment would be lost to Norwich.

He said it is the “wrong time” to think about moving some cancer care because the £26 million Garrett Anderson centre - featuring an accident and emergency department twice the size of the current one - is due to open in January.

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“Ipswich has the capacity and will have more when Garrett Anderson opens. Norwich does not have the capacity,” he said.

“Ipswich is first class for cancer services? Why should a large chunk of that be moved?”

Any move of specialist surgery will also create a long journey for patients' families, he said.

Now the users group plans to launch a publicity campaign to attract more people to its cause.

Mr Dyer said they plan to use television, radio and newspapers to alert people to the possible move.

He spoke out after the Anglia Cancer Network met on Friday to consider the future of several specialist services across the region, including the head and neck cancer services at Ipswich Hospital.

An NHS East of England spokesman said: "The evidence for head and neck cancers suggests that better surgical outcomes are achieved by reducing the number of specialist surgical teams who provide this surgery and each surgical team having a catchment population of one million people, which increases the number of patients each surgical team treats and thereby helps to maintain a high level of surgical expertise.

“That does not mean that head and neck services will cease at Ipswich hospital but that specialised surgery will be performed at a centre which undertakes a larger number of procedures.

“Initial diagnosis and follow-up post surgery will continue to be provided at the local hospitals, including Ipswich, so those services would not be closed.”

She added that reducing the number of specialist teams improved care because the teams would then see people on a more regular basis, helping to keep their skill-level high.

What do you think of the plans? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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