Coastal residents at risk by heart plans

HEALTH bosses have been strongly criticised at a public meeting for pushing through plans to treat all Suffolk's emergency heart patients outside the county.

HEALTH bosses have been strongly criticised at a public meeting for pushing through plans to treat all Suffolk's emergency heart patients outside the county.

At a quickly-arranged meeting in Aldeburgh's Community Centre on Saturday more than 50 people listened to Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer's concerns about the plans, which he said would leave people in rural coastal areas at risk.

Mr Gummer said he had organised the meetings, which continue today in Southwold and Felixstowe, because the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA), had totally failed to consult with the public.

He told the crowd he feared for people's lives if they faced long journeys to new primary angioplasty centres, set up in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, but not Suffolk, without the back-up of the current system of clot-busting drugs if ambulances were unable to reach the time-sensitive centres in time.


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Mr Gummer has called for a duel system, so paramedics are able to give the drugs to patients as a last resort.

He said: “You should not change a system so dramatically without keeping the old system running by its side originally to make sure it works.

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“We have to review the situation independently after a year but the back-up must be in place during that time.”

Mr Gummer also said he was worried that Ipswich Hospital was losing out once again because the three other hospitals had been designated centres, but not the Heath Road site.

He pointed out that head and neck cancer surgery was no longer carried out at Ipswich Hospital, and pancreatic cancer surgery was also due to be moved away.

He said: “We have a serious issue here, because otherwise it will be the death by a thousand cuts.

“I don't believe it is right that people who live near the other hospitals should have a service that is clearly better than those who live here.”

Speakers from the audience all agreed with Mr Gummer's suggestion of making sure the option of clot-busting drugs remained in place.

The Reverend Nigel Hartley of Aldeburgh Parish Church and the rural dean of Saxmundham, added: “The anxiety levels of knowing that care is not going to be provided close to home is also important.

“If I'm going to have a heart attack my feeling will be that Papworth is part of some distant country where I almost need a passport to get to.

“I don't want to travel a long way if it's an emergency. I should be able to know that I'm as safe as I possibly can be in my own county and area.”

Mr Gummer will also be holding meetings today in Southwold's Conservative Club at 1pm and Felixstowe's St Felix Church Hall at 5pm. There will be another public meeting in Woodbridge on Friday at 5pm in the Methodist Church.

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