Consultant's fears for hospital

A SENIOR general consultant surgeon, with more than twenty years' experience, has spoken of his 'sadness' at the demise of services at Ipswich Hospital.

Kate McGrath

A SENIOR general consultant surgeon, with more than twenty years experience, has spoken of his 'sadness' at the demise of services at Ipswich Hospital.

When Alan Cameron first joined the hospital in 1988 he was so proud of the work being done that he wrote to The Times in praise of its services.

In the published letter he wrote “that one of the unsung achievements of the NHS has been the diffusion of expertise away from the centres and into the district hospitals”.

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Speaking yesterday, he said: “I am therefore saddened that recent developments may be threatening our work, and I am far from convinced that the people of Suffolk will benefit from the proposed changes in service delivery.”

There are plans in place to scrap pancreatic cancer surgery, like head and neck cancer surgery last year, and centralise services at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

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It also comes as the heart tsar, Professor Roger Boyle, prepares to deliver his verdict on heart attack care in Suffolk on Monday.

Mr Cameron echoed the fears of Andrew Reed, the chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, when he spoke about losing the 'best staff'. He said: “The risk we face at Ipswich Hospital is losing highly skilled staff.

“With every job there is routine, but it is those challenging jobs that keep you ticking and interested in what you do. We wouldn't drill into someone's head just to keep it interesting but at the same time all staff members from whatever level deserve to be challenged. We won't be able to attract or hang onto the excellent staff we do have.

“Recruits will be more interested in these specialist centres.”

Mr Cameron didn't believe the changes were motivated by money, but warned the hospital faced a 'further erosion of what we do'.

This week Andrew Reed criticised the decision to move pancreatic cancer surgery after it emerged two of his top consultants admitted they might leave if the surgery is moved.

Speaking to the joint overview and scrutiny committee at Suffolk County Council on Tuesday, he said: “We fear that other (procedures) will follow pancreatic cancer surgery because once you put it in a centre people may say other things might as well go there. There are a whole series of unintended consequences which really need to be looked at.”

The consultation into pancreatic cancer surgery, which is being spearheaded by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG), closed on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the SCG said: “The feedback is currently being analysed. We do not have a date for the final decision.”

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