Page last updated at 06:43 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 07:43 UK

Candidates clash over heart care at Ipswich Hospital

The status of Ipswich Hospital is at stake, says the Conservative candidate for the seat.

Ben Gummer criticised the decision to treat people from Suffolk who have suffered the most serious type of heart attack outside of county.

NHS East of England has decided to treat people needing angioplastic surgery in the county in specialist centres in Norwich and Cambridge.

Labour MP Chris Mole said the Tories were "politicising" a health decision.

Angioplastic surgery involves unblocking arteries and is used in 20 to 30% of heart attack cases.

'Centres of expertise'

Mr Gummer, the son of former Conservative cabinet minister John, said: "There has been a decision by the Strategic Health Authority NHS East of England to try and regionalise services in Norwich and Cambridge.

"The government wants to reduce Ipswich Hospital to a glorified treatment centre.

"This will force Ipswich patients with serious medical conditions to travel an hour and a half to get treatment.

"I have opposed these changes since they were proposed and will fight for Ipswich hospitals."

Mr Mole, who hopes to hold his seat for Labour, said Ipswich Hospital has its own specialisms - spinal surgery and gynaecological cancer - but could not be a centre of expertise for everything.

He said the rare type of heart attack treatment needed specialist teams which could not be provided in every hospital in the country and that there were centres of excellence in this treatment in Cambridge.

'Negative publicity'

"Angioplasty procedure can only be provided in centres of sufficient numbers of patients to have the experts," he said.

He said what local people really care about is Ipswich Hospital is cutting waiting lists for surgery.

"It seems to me that people can see the improvements at Ipswich Hospital," he said.

Liberal Democrat candidate Mark Dyson said staff at the hospital were angry at the "negative publicity" put around by the Conservatives about the hospital.

"It is an excellent hospital. It has lost some services, but it has also gained a few," he said.

Mr Dyson said the specialist procedure to help unblock arteries after some types of heart attacks should be used within 90 minutes of the first pain, according to health professionals in the US.

He said a delay in receiving the treatment, due to the extra journey to Cambridge or Norwich, was "effectively putting the lives of patients at risk".

The candidates so far announced for Ipswich include: Conservative: Ben Gummer; Labour: Chris Mole; Green: Tim Glover; UK Independence Party: Christopher Streatfield; BNP: Dennis Boater.



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