Top doctor attacks heart care plan

A FORMER top hospital doctor has today strongly criticised controversial plans to send patients in east Suffolk suffering from serious heart attacks to other parts of the region for treatment.

Tom Potter

A FORMER top hospital doctor has today strongly criticised controversial plans to send patients in east Suffolk suffering from serious heart attacks to other parts of the region for treatment.

Dr Douglas Seaton, who was a consultant physician at Ipswich Hospital for 27 years before retiring in 2006, said the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) would be breaking its basic principles if it goes ahead with the proposal to move heart attack treatment to Norfolk, Essex, or Cambridgeshire.

He said that the SHA's aspirations to deliver a better patient experience, improve people's health and reduce unfairness in health would have “a hollow ring about them” for many Suffolk residents and criticised the “draconian way in which its message was delivered.”


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Dr Seaton questioned whether a patient's experience would be better if he or she has to undergo a long ambulance trip to Papworth Hospital (66 miles from central Ipswich), the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (45 miles) or Basildon Hospital in Essex (57 miles).

“Google estimates journey times from an IP1 post code is 79, 73 and 77 minutes respectively,” said Dr Seaton, in an article written for the EADT.

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“An ambulance might manage the journey faster but it first has to reach the caller who may well be in a rural district and traffic conditions are often uncertain. The initial part of the patient experience would certainly be no better.”

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