'Fight to keep our cancer services'

PEOPLE in Suffolk must join forces to help keep specialist cancer services in the county, campaigners warned last night.

John Howard

PEOPLE in Suffolk must join forces to help keep specialist cancer services in the county, campaigners warned last night.

The Anglia Cancer Network (ACN), which coordinates services in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Peterborough and part of Bedfordshire, has said head and neck cancer surgery should be transferred from Ipswich Hospital to Norwich to comply with national guidelines.

But David Dyer, chairman of the Cancer Services User Group at Ipswich Hospital, said the move would be disastrous.

Mr Dyer, 67, of Queens Road, Felixstowe, said: “People are absolutely frightened and this would be a disaster for Ipswich and the people of Suffolk. It is so stupid, they are destroying this facility in Ipswich which has worked very well for ten years.

“I am very, very concerned for both Ipswich Hospital and for the people of Suffolk, who would face this long journey, as would their loved ones. And this could be a precursor to losing many services here.

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“People need to write to their MP and attend the consultation meetings which start today at Aldeburgh Hospital - we desperate need people to go along.”

Ipswich Town legend Sir Bobby Robson has already called for a rethink of plans to scrap some cancer services from Ipswich Hospital.

Sir Bobby said he received outstanding care from the hospital when he was diagnosed with a life-threatening malignant melanoma behind his eye.

But a spokeswoman for ACN said: “We are holding a consultation so that everyone can have their say on the proposals to move head and neck cancer surgery.

“All networks in the country are looking at how to improve services to make sure that those who it affects in the future get the best possible outcomes. National guidelines are that clinical teams involved in the head and neck cancer services should manage at least 100 new cancer cases per year.

“We estimate these proposals will affect about 33 new patients each year. Under the preferred option for providing better care for those with head and neck cancers in east Suffolk, all other services, including pre and post operative care, will be at Ipswich.”

She said the first consultation workshop will be held at Aldeburgh Hospital tonight from 6.30pm to 8.30pm and more details about the proposals can be found on the Suffolk Primary Care Trust's website.

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