MP demands Government response on heart plan

A SUFFOLK MP is to demand a Government statement today on why a decision on removing cardiac services from Ipswich Hospital has been taken when the county council is unable to intervene because of next month's elections in Suffolk.

Graham Dines

A SUFFOLK MP is to demand a Government statement today on why a decision on removing cardiac services from Ipswich Hospital has been taken when the county council is unable to intervene because of next month's elections in Suffolk.

John Gummer, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, intervened in a debate on health services in Staffordshire last night to ask why Suffolk residents were being ignored in the major shake-up on heart attack treatment which will see services from June 1 concentrated in Norwich, Basildon, and Papworth.

Mr Gummer told health minister Ben Bradshaw - deputising for the secretary of state Alan Johnson - that public concern and complaints in Suffolk were not being heeded, either after changes are made or before they are implemented.


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“Strategic health authorities currently issue a diktat. He (the minister) must understand that complaints must be listened to.”

Mr Bradshaw said any proposed service change by a hospital or primary care trust was subject to a “robust and formal consultation process.”

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He said “one of the most effective things Mr Gummer can do” was persuade his local - “probably Conservative � �- councillors, who dominate the overview and scrutiny committee in his area to raise concerns and refer a major service change unhappy, to an independent national panel.”

Speaking outside the Commons, Mr Gummer said he had notified the Speaker that he intended to raise a point of order this afternoon in which he would accuse Mr Bradshaw of misleading parliament.

“The minister knows perfectly well that elections are about to be held to elect a new county council, which means councillors are not allowed to make decisions during the election period. The same goes for the health scrutiny committee.

“Local politics in Suffolk is on hold until after the elections, and therefore there can be no input into the consultation process from the county council until after the new health set-up is up and running.”

Mr Gummer received an assurance during the debate from Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley that “I will make it my business to visit Ipswich hospital to discuss the issue with its representatives.

“The services that patients would receive at Papworth hospital would be among the finest anywhere in the world, as it is in my constituency.

“However, that is not to say that we do not believe that such services should be provided in more accessible locations if they can be and if they are of good quality.”

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