Ipswich: People power secures another heart victory
Health campaigners have been given a massive boost in their fight for top-notch heart services with news that an elective surgery centre is destined for Ipswich Hospital.
The Heath Road hospital’s board yesterday approved plans for a PCI unit to treat non-emergency cardiac patients – saving them long journeys across the region.
It has also given renewed hope that, one day, Ipswich will get the emergency heart attack service many feel the town deserves.
The decision still has to be ratified by the strategic health authority, NHS East of England, but insiders say it would be unthinkable for that now not to happen.
Much credit was given to the thousands of residents who have backed a campaign calling for the development to be made a reality. Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “This is a triumph for local people and for the campaign I and others have been involved in for nearly two years.
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“Let us be clear about this. This centre would not have happened without the campaign joined by so many people in Ipswich.
“But this is not the end. Ipswich needs its own emergency heart unit. With this news, we have the foundation of that facility. Just as we have achieved this first goal of having planned heart surgery in Ipswich, I will continue to fight to bring emergency heart care to the town.”
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Hopes of a primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) centre were dashed last month when national heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle stood by a decision to send severe heart attack patients to other centres out of the county.
The move came after a year-long trial which saw patients taken to Norwich, Cambridge and Basildon because it was not deemed viable to set up a centre at Ipswich.
However, there is optimism the plans could still be resurrected.
Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said: “The benefits of this for local people are, in our opinion, immense because it means anyone who needs planned cardiac intervention will be able to have it here.
“We are all absolutely delighted that we have reached that stage. The business case, as with all business cases, will need to go to NHS East of England for the final sign-off, but we are really hopeful.
“We always believed we could become a PCI centre, so we started our planning. It’s a great day and we can get to the next stage. If you have a PCI, you have the infrastructure which, in time, would put us in a much better position.”
Ms Rowsell also praised the support of residents, who have raised more than �30,000 for better heart services in Ipswich.
She added: “What has been particularly significant, and it has touched us all, is the support of our community in backing this really major development.
“We would like to thank everyone who has shown their support in such a tangible way. Every penny of the money raised will go towards the new centre.”
Tracy Dowling, director of strategic services at the NHS Suffolk, which would buy in the service when given the final approval, said: “NHS Suffolk is really pleased that Ipswich Hospital Trust Board have approved the development of a PCI service.
“This will really strengthen the cardiology services at the hospital. Patients will benefit from having this new treatment locally.”