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999 heart care trial could be extended

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 08:36 01 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against proposals to treat serious heart attack patients outside Suffolk last night welcomed the news that a trial scheme could be extended.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against proposals to treat serious heart attack patients outside Suffolk last night welcomed the news that a trial scheme could be extended.

Following opposition to the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group's plans to take serious heart attack patients in Suffolk to specialist treatment (PPCI) centres at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Papworth in Cambridge and Basildon in Essex, heart tsar Professor Roger Boyle ordered a trial period to test journey times.

This began in September and was due to last three months to allow experts to study survival rates and then make a further recommendation.

At an NHS Suffolk Board meeting yesterday Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning, said this period could be extended as there have been a very small number of patients that have been affected.

She said: “The pilot has been running since September and the numbers of patients are small. We think it could be longer than three months.”

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer was delighted about the possibility of spanning the trial over a longer time period, which would make it fairer, he claimed.

He said: “It was always made clear that it would not stop until people could make a proper assessment. We have always said that three months would not be suitable because you have got to see what journey times are like during the winter and holiday season. “We have got to make sure we have covered enough people so it can be measured properly.

“Until we can make sure that people in east Suffolk have as good a service than they would have if they lived next door to one of these centres, then we will not give up.”

Tony Ramsey, from Heartbeat East Suffolk Cardiac Support Group, said: “We have always been in favour of a longer trial than three months as the winter causes more difficult driving conditions and we need to have proper numbers so there is a large sample. “Ultimately we would like a Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention centre in Ipswich.”

Ms Dowling also gave an update on the heart services situation, claiming that the public engagement sessions have been successful and information leaflets on the subject are being circulated to every house in Suffolk. There is also a weekly conference to keep in touch with suppliers of the service.

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