Suffolk: Clot-busting drugs may be withdrawn

HEALTH bosses in Suffolk are to look at withdrawing clot-busting thrombolysis drugs from ambulances after a report said some heart attack patients would recover better if they were taken straight to a specialist centre out of the county.

The long-waited report by a team headed by the government’s “heart tsar” Professor Roger Boyle recommended that the clot-busting drugs were no longer given to patients – even if they do face a long journey to hospital.

After the report was published, Dr Paul Watson, chief executive of NHS Suffolk, said the PCT would be talking to senior ambulance officials about its findings on whether to continue to offer thrombolysis treatment.

Prof Boyle’s report showed that the time taken from an emergency call to having an angioplasty balloon fitted for patients in East Suffolk was 40 minutes longer than the average in the east of England.

But this was not simply down to geography – during the year-long trial patients were given thrombolysis drugs before being taken in an ambulance and they took time to administer which added to the total time.

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And the report said that the mortality rate of patients from East Suffolk was not adversely affected.

The report showed that a national mortality rate of 4.2 percent, a regional rate of 4.5pc and an average in East Suffolk of 3.4pc.

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However the number of cases in east Suffolk was not great – over the 12 month period there were 94 heart attacks that were suspected of being the type that would respond to the treatment.

Of these all were given thrombolysis treatment, but then 29 were treated at a PPCI (primary percutaneous coronary intervention) centre, and 65 were not immediately treated.

Most of these were given angioplasty the next day – although some were found not to need it or there were other reasons for it not being used,

The report did give firm backing to Ipswich Hospital setting up its own angioplasty (PCI) centre for planned treatment – but the chances of eventually converting this into a 24-hour emergency centre like those in Norwich, Basildon and Papworth seem remote because the area is not considered to have a large enough population to merit such a centre.

Professor Boyle was unable to present the report himself – he was suffering from flu – so it was presented by Dr Jim McLenachan, a consultant cardiologist from the Leeds Royal Infirmary who was a member of his team looking at heart services in Suffolk.

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