Page last updated at 18:09 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 19:09 UK

Heart treatment plans announced

Patients in Suffolk who have the most serious type of heart attack will still receive treatment outside the county.

The plan follows a review of NHS proposals by the government's so-called Heart Tsar Professor Roger Boyle.

His recommendations include sending patients to specialist hospitals elsewhere in the region.

Professor Boyle, who was brought in following opposition to the NHS plans, added that Ipswich Hospital should expand its cardiology department.

Clot-busting treatment

Professor Boyle visited Ipswich last month and heard concerns from doctors, paramedics, and the general public to plans drawn up by NHS Suffolk and the East of England NHS Specialist Commissioning Group.

The proposals concerned the treatment of patients suffering from a severe type of heart attack, which account for 20% to 30% of all heart attacks.

Under Professor Boyle's recommendations, patients from west Suffolk, normally treated at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, will go straight to specialist heart hospital Papworth, in Cambridge, for emergency angioplasty.

A three-month pilot scheme will run in east Suffolk where patients will be given clot-busting drug treatment, known as thrombolysis, and then taken to either Papworth, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Basildon University Hospital in Essex, or Harefield Hospital in west London.

Patient reassurance

Travel times will be closely monitored and reviewed before it is decided whether the service should continue.

Prof Boyle's report added that Ipswich Hospital's cardiology department should be expanded, but any changes would take an "absolute minimum" of three years to come to fruition.

Dr Paul Watson, director of commissioning at NHS East of England, said the thrombolysis treatment would give people "the reassurance they have asked for".

Andrew Reed, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, said it would continue to treat the vast majority of heart attack patients.

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