Mole joins battle to keep cancer service

A LABOUR MP has joined the growing chorus against the decision to transfer head and neck cancer surgery from Ipswich Hospital to the Norwich & Norfolk.

Graham Dines

A LABOUR MP has joined the growing chorus against the decision to transfer head and neck cancer surgery from Ipswich Hospital to the Norwich & Norfolk.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole has told the Anglia Cancer Network that “without an assessment of a significant enhancement to 30 day morbidity,” it should not confirm the proposal to change the current arrangements.

“The benefits to a very small number of patients may be outweighed by the disbenefits to others affected by the impact on Maxillo-facial trauma services at Ipswich Hospital,” says Mr Mole. “The NHS has to be persuaded that patients, such as road traffic accident victims, are not put at risk by having to be transferred to the Norwich and Norfolk following 'stabilise and transfer' procedures.”

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The distance to the Norwich and Norfolk would mean “a significant amount of travelling for patients, relatives and consultant surgeons.” He said neither the consultants providing current services nor the Cancer Services User Group were in favour of the proposals.”

“There is a case for change, but this has not been strongly made and the theoretical benefits for a handful of patients may be outweighed by the uncertainty that reconfiguration will necessarily deliver improvement and the risk to other services provided at Ipswich Hospital that are dependant on the Maxillo-facial team.”

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His intervention follows campaigning by the town's Tory parliamentary candidate Ben Gummer, whose petition to protest against the proposed cutbacks was signed by more than 2,000 people on the Cornhill on Saturday.

Mr Gummer said: “People are furious. It is clear that ACN's proposals not only fly in the face of considered medical opinion but are quite contrary to public opinion as well.

“It is imperative that we retain full treatment for cancer patients here in Ipswich. The Government has said that it will listen - that is what it now needs to do on cancer care in Ipswich.”

Mr Gummer said he will hand the petition to the Department of Health in the next couple of weeks.

Speaking recently, Audrey Bradford, director of ACN, said they were trying to empathise with patients

Meanwhile Ipswich council's executive committee has decided unanimously to oppose the decision. A council spokesman said the borough was “disappointed with the consultation document and does not feel that sufficient information is available for ACN to make a decision at this stage.

“We have not seen any information on this matter as it relates to the hospitals under discussion nor do we feel that a full analysis has been undertaken of access issues for patients, their relatives and carers.

“We do not feel that the consultation document makes it clear what the key advantages for patients of having surgery at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital are as opposed to Ipswich.”

The executive highlighted its major concerns as the state of the A140 road to Norwich, the difficulty for carers to get to the Norfolk and Norwich, particularly by public transport, the expense of visiting, the lack of evidence that the proposals will enhance outcomes for patients, the public rejection by the consultants, the rurality of Suffolk communities and the knock on effect the changes will have on facial trauma.

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