Review to take place over heart plans

SUFFOLK'S health chiefs are today calling for an urgent review into a scheme which would see emergency heart attack patients taken out of county to specialist centres.

SUFFOLK'S health chiefs are today calling for an urgent review into a scheme which would see emergency heart attack patients taken out of county to specialist centres.

Following a huge public outcry over the move, NHS Suffolk and the East of England NHS Specialist Commissioning Group are asking Professor Roger Boyle CBE, the national director for Heart Disease and Stroke to urgently review the plans.

He is being asked to make assurances that the introduction of the new service for the east Suffolk population are robust and that is also being asked to look at the overall provision of the specialist centres in the area and coronary angioplasty services at Ipswich Hospital.

It is currently proposed that from June 1 emergency heart attack victims will be taken to specialist centres in Cambridge, Norwich or Basildon for primary angioplasty treatment without first being taken to Ipswich Hospital.

Paramedics will be unable to give the patient lifesaving clot-busting drugs because it could affect the success of the angioplasty.

The scheme was put through without any consultation and was not even widely publicised.

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Now NHS Suffolk has revealed that while Professor Boyle is undertaking the review the implementation of the scheme in east Suffolk will be postponed. Patients in east Suffolk who suffer an emergency heart attack will continue to receive pre-hospital thrombolysis, the current treatment.

The NHS also confirmed that the current clot-busting drugs used for thrombolysis will continue to be available at all hospitals, including Ipswich Hospital and the ambulances, as a fail safe back up should exceptional circumstances make it impossible for a patient to get to one of the Specialist Heart Attack Centres.

Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of NHS Suffolk, said: “This has been clinically proven to be the most effective treatment for severe heart attacks.

“However, we understand people's concerns that its introduction will mean patients being taken to hospitals outside the area.

“We therefore feel it right to ask the country's leading expert to review the plans so that he can give people the reassurance that they are seeking.

“The ambulance trust has looked at real patient journey times and assured us that they will be able to deliver patients to one of the Specialist Heart Attack Centres in time for the most effective treatment of PPCI. However, it is prudent to continue to hold stocks of thrombolysis at Ipswich Hospital and in the ambulances, which is also used in the treatment of stroke, as back up.”