Ipswich: Battle lines drawn in fight for our liver cancer service

HEALTH campaigners are today stepping up their fight to ensure vital services STAY at Ipswich Hospital.

Under threat is the surgical service which removes secondary cancer from the liver. Known as liver metastases, they are cancerous tumours which have spread to the liver from elsewhere in the body.

A small number of liver metastases are suitable to be removed by surgery. That surgery is currently offered at Ipswich Hospital, the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

But a review has stated one single centre is preferred, citing the Cambridgeshire trust as the preferred option. That would mean patients needing surgery would have to travel to Addenbrooke’s.

Councillor Alan Murray, chairman of the Suffolk Health Scrutiny Committee, said while the number of patients undergoing this type of surgery at the Heath Road trust is small, he fears losing the two liver surgeons, currently at Ipswich, would leave the hospital de-skilled and lacking the capacity to treat a range of common complications. He said losing another service from the hospital could deter top quality junior doctors from wanting to come to the trust to train and work.

He told The Star: “For the patients of Suffolk the best option would be to concentrate surgical services at Norwich for this particular resection of colorectal metastases. I understand that Ipswich Hospital would support this. It would be a shared service between the hospitals and it would mean Ipswich would retain the expertise of those surgeons.

“At the moment the current situation and future proposed changes are almost certainly going to be examined in detail at a joint Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire health scrutiny committee.

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An Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman said: “We are working with Councillor Murray and all the partner organisations involved to find the best option for people who live in east Suffolk.”

It is understood if a shared service was agreed between Ipswich and Norwich that patients would have their initial assessment at the Heath Road trust and a small number would have to travel to Norwich to have surgery.

And Ipswich MP Ben Gummer added his backing.

He said: “I would fully support any bid by the local hospital to develop their own services and I think it is important that the central NHS authorities do not impose a solution especially while we are in a process of devolving power to local clinicians.”

n What do you think? Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

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