Suffolk: It is the difference between life and death - councillor backs campaign to Save Our Stroke Services

Christopher Hudson, district councillor for Framlingham, says the introduction of car parking charge

Christopher Hudson, district councillor for Framlingham, says the introduction of car parking charges in the town would be a 'non starter' - Credit: Contributed

STROKE patients could be at risk if controversial proposals over the future of stroke services become a reality, a concerned councillor has warned.

The East Anglian Daily Times launched the Save Our Stroke Services campaign yesterday after it emerged patients who suffer a stroke could have to travel to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge or to Colchester to receive emergency care.

The NHS Midlands and East Stroke Review is understood to be considering three options for the future of stroke care in Suffolk – one would see Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital without hyper acute stroke units (HASUs).

Instead stroke patients would have to be taken by ambulance out of the county.

The three options which an Expert External Advisory Group (EEAG) is expected to recommend to health bosses in Suffolk are:

n HASUs, providing emergency treatment, at Addenbrooke’s and Colchester with acute services, providing rehabilitation, at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals

n A HASU at Ipswich with acute services at Colchester and West Suffolk Hospital

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n HASUs at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals with acute services at West Suffolk Hospital

Christopher Hudson, Framlingham district councillor, said: “I’m right behind this campaign.

“We must make it very clear that emergency stroke care should be in Suffolk.

“I understand that all options are on the table but this could be the difference between life and death. It is vital it stays at Ipswich - I can’t stress that enough. If time is lost, people will be dead.

“Framlingham would exemplify the problem. We can’t rely on roads always being clear to get us to Colchester in time.

“We have to forget this option immediately so that people can sleep soundly in their beds.”

And chairman of the watchdog, the Suffolk Health Scrutiny Committee, Alan Murray said he would expect any proposal to move emergency care out of Suffolk to be properly scrutinised.

“Certainly health scrutiny are not involved at this stage,” he said. “Although it is a subject that would and should be fully scrutinised at the appropriate time.”

An NHS Suffolk spokeswoman said health chiefs are committed to creating a HASU service in Suffolk.

She said both Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and West Suffolk CCG – who will take over from the primary care trust on April 1 – have signed up to a strategic statement.

She added that no decisions have been made and the CCGs are waiting for the final suggestions from NHS Midlands and East. Under the EEAG criteria neither Addenbrooke’s Colchester, Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals are HASUs at the moment.

The strategic statement states: “We will commission HASU and acute stroke services from both Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital.

“We expect to commission a collaborative model of acute care with stroke consultants working between the two hospitals, support by telemedicine, to provide 24-hour cover seven days a week.”

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