Stormy debate on heart care services

PASSIONS ran high at a heated debate over heart attack care in Ipswich last night.

Rebecca Lefort

PASSIONS ran high at a heated debate over heart attack care in Ipswich last night.

Chris Mole, Ipswich MP, faced a barrage of criticism from the public during his confrontation with Conservative parliamentary candidate Ben Gummer.

Mr Mole and Mr Gummer both spoke eloquently during the open debate at Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House in Russell Road, with nearly 200 people listening to the arguments.

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Mr Mole said he was persuaded that plans to take Ipswich emergency heart attack patients to specialist primary angioplasty (PPCI) centres in Norwich, Papworth in Cambridgeshire, or Basildon in Essex, would result in a better standard of care than currently on offer.

However, Mr Gummer argued that a specialist PPCI centre should also be set up in Ipswich - which health bosses say is unfeasible - so people have the same access to high-quality care wherever they live. Mr Mole said: “You've got to make the decision whether you want to have the best clinical procedures for your loved ones, or whether you're going to worry about where the care will take place.

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“We can't have everything everywhere and you're kidding yourself if you think you can.”

The Labour MP faced a series of questions from angry audience members, who applauded, laughed and shouted during the course of the event, which was chaired by Suffolk's former fire chief, Malcolm Alcock.

Mr Gummer told the audience: “I agree that PPCI is better, that is why we want a centre here in Ipswich.

“Ipswich is not the Outer Hebrides, we deserve the best care.

“What is wonderful is that this debate shows this town can stand up for itself and when we need to, we will fight.”

Mr Gummer also faced questions and was challenged over the practicalities of providing specialist and complex care in smaller centres.

The debate came a week before Professor Roger Boyle, the national heart tsar, is due to report back on his review of heart attack care in Suffolk.

Prof Boyle has been tasked with studying the best way to deliver urgent heart attack care in Suffolk after an outcry from patients and the public about plans to treat them outside the county.

He will return to Ipswich next Monday to give his verdict.

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