Where is our choice, minister?

WHERE is our choice?As patients across England are promised more choice in a ten-year vision set out by health minister Lord Darzi, The Evening Star is asking why the views of Suffolk patients are being ignored.

WHERE is our choice?

As patients across England are promised more choice in a ten-year vision set out by health minister Lord Darzi, The Evening Star is asking why the views of Suffolk patients are being ignored.

The report 'High Quality Care For All' was published yesterday to a Department of Health fanfare, pledging to transform healthcare for the better - with more control for patients.

Yet in Suffolk health bosses are sticking rigidly to their plans to scrap head and neck cancer surgery from Ipswich Hospital and move it to Norwich.

This is despite the opposition of more than 3,000 people who have signed the Star's petition against the move, clinicians who warn facial trauma services will be affected too, charities, medical bodies and Sir Bobby Robson, who has received treatment himself from the expert staff at Ipswich.

Lord Darzi said in the report: “The vision this report sets out is of an NHS that gives patients and the public more information and choice.”

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The first chapter of the report is entitled 'Change - locally-led, patient-centred and clinically driven' and he adds: “I have heard clearly and consistently that people want a greater degree of control and influence over their health and healthcare.”

Yet the NHS bosses in Suffolk and at the East of England Strategic Health Authority claim they have no choice but to move the head and neck surgery to meet national guidelines and can not take into account the excellent care provided at Ipswich Hospital.

Peter Espley, from the Ipswich Hospital cancer services user group, which is battling against the move, said: “The health service is supposed to be led by the patients and what they want.

“We have made it clear we wish to keep the service in Ipswich because it is of excellent quality and they are ignoring that and not taking the slightest bit of notice of the patients.

“All the NHS documents, including the Darzi report, say patients should be important and what they want should come first, but they aren't listening to us.”

Do you think health bosses in Suffolk are listening to the views of patients? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The campaign

The Evening Star is fighting to keep head and neck cancer surgery where it belongs - at Ipswich Hospital.

The Anglia Cancer Network (ACN) wants to move the life-saving surgery to Norwich, leaving patients with an arduous journey at one of the most stressful times of their lives.

The ACN says the move is needed to comply with national guidelines about the number of patients treated at hospitals.

So far more than 3,000 people have signed the Star's petition against the move.

And during the campaign the Star has highlighted:

The public consultation into the move was a sham, with the East of England Strategic Health Authority telling health colleagues the only allowable option was to move the service to Norwich.

The flaws in the data regarding the number of patients treated at Ipswich Hospital.

Suffolk Primary Care Trust's attempts to suppress clinicians at Ipswich Hospital from speaking out about those figures.

The lack of specialist registrars in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

That patients living as close to Ipswich as Manningtree will be sent to Chelmsford for treatment, simply because of healthcare boundaries.

That Ipswich Hospital itself believes the decision will have an impact on its ability to provide emergency care.

That there is no published evidence to prove creating a specialist centre will improve outcomes for head and neck cancer patients.