MP wants heart care plans stopped

A SUFFOLK MP has written to the Government to demand that plans to dramatically shake-up care for heart attack victims be stopped until a full consultation has taken place.

Anthony Bond

A SUFFOLK MP has written to the Government to demand that plans to dramatically shake-up care for heart attack victims be stopped until a full consultation has taken place.

In a strongly-worded letter to health minister Ben Bradshaw, Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer said there should be an “urgent investigation” into the health service in the region.

It follows the decision by health bosses to treat all heart attack victims out of Suffolk. Instead they will be treated at specialist centres in Norwich, Papworth in Cambridgeshire or Basildon in Essex after June 1.

Campaigners against the plans say this could lead to a fight for life taking place in the back of an ambulance over many miles of road.

Yesterday, Mr Gummer fired off a letter to Mr Bradshaw demanding that a full public consultation should take place over the changes.

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It follows comments by Mr Bradshaw to Mr Gummer in the House of Commons on Monday that any proposed service change by a hospital or primary care trust was subject to a “robust and formal consultation process”.

Mr Gummer's letter said: “In answer to my intervention in the House yesterday {Monday}, you suggested that my constituents have every opportunity to complain about service changes. That is not true. The two major changes in the services provided by Ipswich Hospital have been pushed through in a way that avoids any such protest.

He added: “As with the earlier consultation on head and neck cancer, every impression is being given that all is done and dusted and the whole matter is actually decided - whatever we may say. In response to our concerns, all the SHA seems able to do is to quote impenetrable jargon from its own vacuously-titled documents rather than answer the well-argued and clear case put by medical and non-medical people locally.”

Those campaigning against the plans say that heart attack victims could be put at risk by having to take an ambulance trip of up to 165 minutes - often on busy and congested roads such as the A12, A14 and A140.

In his letter, Mr Gummer wanted assurances that the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) “stop the changes” until a proper consultation has taken place. He also insisted that the SHA explain how they can guarantee that people can be treated within 165 minutes and wanted to know why “165 minutes is acceptable for my constituents whereas a much shorter period is thought right for others”.

He added: “Will you therefore now set up an urgent investigation into the health service locally so that we can be reassured that the health of my constituents, many of whom are no longer young, is protected by a hospital in Ipswich capable of caring for their medical needs.”

Despite Mr Gummer's concerns, Ipswich MP Chris Mole has refused to back down in his support for the move. He said: “I am supporting this move because it is good for the people of Ipswich, not the hospital, not the NHS. If I thought people's lives would be saved by being treated on the moon I would support that!”

A spokeswoman for the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group said the outcomes for heart attack patients in Suffolk will be better. “Treatment times and patient outcomes will be closely audited to ensure that the highest possible level of care is being delivered.”