Boost for Ipswich Hospital heart care

IPSWICH Hospital could have a new specialist heart laboratory set up within a year if health bosses back the important project.

Rebecca Lefort

IPSWICH Hospital could have a new specialist heart laboratory set up within a year if health bosses back the important project.

The move would be a massive boost to morale at the hospital and the first step in the process of being able to provide the best level of care for emergency heart attack victims at the Heath Road site.

The news follows a major campaign, backed by the EADT, for improved heart services at the hospital to treat east Suffolk patients.


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At yesterday's meeting of the Suffolk Health Scrutiny Committee (HSC) the hospital's medical director, Peter Donaldson, revealed a business plan was being put together to create a multi-million pound catheter laboratory (cath lab).

The lab would only be able to perform non-emergency angioplasty procedures for heart patients.

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But it provides a glimmer of hope that, if the service were to later expand, emergency heart attack patients could be treated there too - preventing them from travelling to hospitals outside the county.

If NHS bosses back the initial plans it would also see more investment in the hospital's cardiac department, which Mr Donaldson admitted was not robust enough at the moment and had recently failed to recruit consultant cardiologists.

He added: “If we get the appropriate support from NHS Suffolk and the Strategic Health Authority it might be possible to fast-track the development of the cath lab to within a year from now.

“We have to present a business case which we will do at the beginning of August.

“We have had support from Papworth Hospital already in terms of agreeing the possibility of joint appointments.”

The source of the funding for the lab, which could cost around �2.5million to set up, has not yet been determined, and once it was built the hospital would need to recruit extra staff before being able to carry out the key operations.

The positive news came as councillors on the HSC discussed controversial plans to treat emergency heart attack patients at specialist centres outside Suffolk.

The committee backed proposals from heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle that would see patients given clot-busting drugs in the back of ambulances and taken primary angioplasty centres outside Suffolk from September 1 as part of a three-month audit into journey times.

Meanwhile in west Suffolk, where there are less concerns about travel times, patients will be taken straight to the new centres from Monday, without being given the drugs.

The specialist centres at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire and Basildon Hospital in Essex, offer primary angioplasty for emergency patients.

David Yorke-Edwards, the chairman of the HSC, said the move towards creating a cath lab was “a great news story for Ipswich Hospital”.

NHS Suffolk has pledged to hold a series of drop-in sessions to discuss plans for heart attack treatment to patients in Suffolk.

During the events health bosses will talk with the public about the controversial changes.

The first one will be held in Ipswich Town Hall on Thursday from 4pm to 6pm.

Then at West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds on Friday from 4pm to 6pm.

On Monday from 5pm to 7pm at Sizewell Sports and Social Club.

At the Riverside Community Centre in Stratford St Andrew on Tuesday, August 4, from 5pm to 7pm.

At Cedars Hotel in Stowmarket on Thursday, August 6, from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

On Monday, August 10, at St Felix Hall in Felixstowe from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

And at the Kesgrave Community Centre on Wednesday, August 12, from 4.30pm to 6.15pm.

For more information visit www.suffolk.nhs.uk.

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