Anger at hospital 'bright future' claim

CAMPAIGNERS have hit back at claims by health bosses that the controversial changes to services at Ipswich Hospital will bring “very positive benefits”.

Naomi Cassidy

CAMPAIGNERS have hit back at claims by health bosses that the controversial changes to services at Ipswich Hospital will bring “very positive benefits”.

Proposed changes to services like treating emergency heart attack patients outside the county and moving pancreatic cancer surgery away from Suffolk has caused outrage amongst readers.

However Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of NHS Suffolk, and Alastair McWhirter, its chairman, have now written a letter to this paper reassuring people that Ipswich Hospital has a “bright future” as a district general hospital.


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It states that the four changes highlighted in the paper will bring “very positive benefits and improved health outcomes”.

The changes include scraping the head and neck cancer surgery at Ipswich Hospital, which happened last year, plans to move pancreatic cancer surgery away from the site and move it to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, the decision to treat emergency heart attack patients in Norwich, Cambridgeshire and Essex rather than Suffolk from June 1, and a third of diabetic patients being transferred to GP care.

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Prue Rush, a health campaigner and former GP nurse at Ipswich Hospital, said: “There has been an agenda for change in Suffolk for several years. It seems there are always services being reduced at Ipswich Hospital. On each occasion it is promised there will be better things in place before the services are removed but this never happens.

“We have had promises in the past when things like the community hospital closed and as yet the benefits and better outcomes are not very obvious to anyone living or working in the community.

“When we have lost so much how can they sit back and honestly say this is the best option?”

The letter from NHS Suffolk adds: “People in Suffolk should feel confident that Ipswich Hospital will thrive as a district general hospital and we will continue to support them in developing and improving their services to reach the standards of excellence that we expect.”

However Peter Espley, vice-chairman of Ipswich Hospital Cancer Services Users Group, admitted he was worried about the future.

He said: “I'm very worried for the future of Ipswich Hospital and the people of East Suffolk. We do seem to be losing out. Eventually Ipswich Hospital will turn into a cottage hospital.

“Pancreatic cancer services going to Addenbrooke's is a good idea but we are very concerned about travel arrangements for the patient's visitors and families. Most people will have to pay for travel.”

Although there were initial fears that plans to reduce the number of patients treated at Ipswich Hospital's Diabetes Centre by a third would lead to its closure, health bosses have maintained there is no threat to the service and say GPs are sometimes better placed to treat diabetics.

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