Ipswich: Star launches a campaign to create a specialist emergency stroke centre at Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer - Credit: Archant

SAVE our stroke care.

That is the cry today as The Star launches a new campaign to highlight the need to create a specialist stroke unit at Ipswich Hospital.

A regional Stroke Review is under way to set up hyper acute stroke units (HASUs) at hospitals across East Anglia.

The aim is to create several centres of excellence to improve patients’ chances of survival and recovery.

Three options are understood to be considered for Suffolk – one of which would see Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds miss out on establishing a centre at Heath Road.

Instead stroke patients would have to travel by ambulance to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge or Colchester for emergency treatment.

The threat comes a year after Ipswich Hospital’s stroke services was held up as an example of excellence to the rest of the region.

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As part of the review, which began in July, an Expert External Advisory Group is understood to be set to suggest three options for Suffolk patients.

n HASUs, providng emergency treatment, at Addenbrooke’s and Colchester with acute services, for rehabilitation, at Ipswich and West Suffolk

n A HASU at Ipswich with acute services at Colchester and West Suffolk

n HASUs at Ipswich and Colchester with an acute service at West Suffolk

The town’s MP has today backed the campaign vowing to fight for patients to ensure they receive the best possible care at their local hospital.

Ben Gummer takes up this battle after championing The Star’s Have a Heart campaign to create a specialist elective heart centre at Ipswich Hospital.

That fight was victorious last February and the new unit is set to open to treat patients this summer.

“I think there are three main points,” said Mr Gummer. “First of all Ipswich is the fastest growing town in the region and I pledged before the election to fight to ensure specialist services came here.

“This is another battle I will be taking up for that reason.

“The second is just one of medical logic. We have an ageing population around Ipswich and we have got a new coronary centre being opened at Ipswich Hospital in the coming months, as a result of the Have a Heart campaign by The Star and myself.

“It makes perfect sense to add to that expertise and create a centre of excellence for coronary, vascular and stroke services, here in Ipswich.

“And the third is this, it is important to look at the alternatives. I just don’t think they make sense.

“West Suffolk is close to Addenbrooke’s and I have to say that Colchester in its current state, under investigation with some worrying financial performance, and with some of the experiences I have been involved with recently I would be worried about putting more specialist services in that hospital at the current time.

“There are three strong reasons why a specialist stroke centre should come to Ipswich.”

GPs at the helm of the county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCG) – who take over from NHS Suffolk today – are yet to make a decision on the future of stroke care in Suffolk.

A spokeswoman for the Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG and West Suffolk CCG said they are waiting for the final suggestions from the Expert External Advisory Group.

She said both CCGs have signed up to a strategic statement outlining their vision to create a HASU in Suffolk.

Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital will have to put forward their case showing evidence they can meet the requirements necessary to become a HASU, before any decision can be made.

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