Improving A12 Safety from East Bergholt to the Essex border

In May this year the Highways Agency announced that they would carry out a safety study of the A12 South of Ipswich, following a spate of accidents between the East Bergholt Four Sisters junction and the Essex border.  This study was announced following a request from local Liberal Democrat councillor Sue Carpendale and myself.

 In response to the announcement that the Highways Agency were to begin a safety review along the A12 we launched our own survey of households in Stratford St. Mary, Holton St. Mary and Higham. More than 150 responses were received. Three questions were asked: 

  1. Would you support a 50mph limit on the A12 from Stratford St. Mary to East Bergholt
  2. Would you support a right turn ban at the B1068 Higham turning?
  3. Would you support a ban on Heavy Goods Vehicles overtaking on this section of road?

The main findings from the responses were: 

·      A clear majority were in favour of a 50mph limit.

·      The right turn ban at the B1068 Higham turning was supported but there were concerns about traffic routing through Stratford St. Mary on unsuitable roads

·      A majority would also support a ban on lorries overtaking on this stretch of A12

·      There was a great deal of anger that the County Council had routed A12 traffic through Stratford St. Mary early this year

·      There were worries about the high number of accidents on the A12.  

We were extremely pleased with the number of people who responded to our survey, this shows how concerned people are about the safety of the roads around these villages.  We passed these results onto the Highways agency and they have now contacted us to say that these views will be taken into account as part of their safety study. The safety of both local residents and drivers is paramount, and any moves to improve the state of this accident blackspot will be welcomed. We will do all we can to keep up the pressure on the Highways Agency so that the high number of injury accidents on this road are reduced.

Health update on heart attack care and Foundation Trust bid for Ipswich Hospital

I have attended quite a number of meetings over the last month relating to heart care and Ipswich Hospital. NHS Suffolk have promised that a leaflet will be sent to every household to explain the changes which will be taking place to care of “STEMI” heart attack patients ie those with a clot in the blood vessels around the heart. Over the summer they will be very carefully monitoring transit times by emergency ambulance from Suffolk to Papworth hospital in Cambridgeshire.

I attended the NHS Suffolk Board meeting in July and suggested that they look at the current emergency ambulance journey times from the Suffolk Coastal area to Ipswich hospital for the last 12 months. This should give an idea of delays either in the summer months, when there is tourist traffic, or over the recent harsh winter with icy roads. I also attended the consultation on Foundation Trust Status for Ipswich Hospital on August 11th. I have sent a letter to local papers to encourage people to support the hospital in its bid for Foundation Status. One of the risks of not getting this status is that it could be taken over by another hospital. One of the benefits is that it should have greater financial freedom and, hopefully, the ability to compete on a more even playing field for specialist services. More details are available at: http://www.ipswichhospital.net/foundationtrust/default.asp

Heart attack care in Suffolk

July 8th 2009

On Monday afternoon I attended the meeting where Professor Boyle, the Government’s “Heart Tsar”, was reporting back on the decision to transport “STEMI” heart attack patients to Papworth hospital in Cambridge or the Norfolk and Norwich hospital for “PPCI” treatment. Although the treatment increases survival rates, there has been a huge amount of concern about transport times, especially from the rural coastal area of Suffolk in winter.

 As a result of this public concern Professor Boyle has guaranteed that travel times will be studied over the next few months and that people can opt for the current service rather than be transported to Papworth or Norwich. They can’t be specific about how long this study will take as they need enough patients from the more rural areas to get a true picture. Currently there are 2-3 cases per week inEast Suffolk and of course they have no idea where they will be from.

“STEMI” heart attacks account for 25% of all heart attacks. The current treatment of clot busting drugs or thrombolysis, can be administered by paramedics prior to arrival at hospital. The new service “PPCI” involves the insertion of a stent and leads to improved survival rates for patients. However this treatment must be carried out at specialist centres where they have both the equipment and enough trained cardiologists to provide around the clock treatment. The recommendation is also that PPCI is carried out within 150 minutes of the heart attack. 

Ipswich hospital currently has neither the equipment nor the number of trained cardiologists (minimum of 6) to provide a round the clock service. This poses a number of questions including:

  1. Can this service be provided in the future at Ipswich hospital and how long would it take to establish?
  2. Does it diminish the current service for heart attack patients?
  3. Will this further deplete services at Ipswich Hospital?

On the first question it would take 3 to 4 years to establish a service. What they can establish, if there is the will to do so, is an elective angioplasty service in the interim. For this they would need a minimum of three cardiologists. They also need to carry out a minimum of 400 procedures each year to ensure professional expertise. A member of the audience suggested linking up with Colchester hospital to increase the number of patients treated at Ipswich.

On the second point they were careful to stress that heart attack care at Ipswich hospital would not be diminished, which goes some way to answering the third question.

 What this whole debate has thrown up is that people in East Suffolk are fearful of losing even more services from IpswichHospital.

 What happens next:

NHS Suffolk will host a number of open sessions for members of the public. I asked when these would be and where would they be publicised and they said that they should have the dates by the end of this week and that adverts will appear in the local press. Also every household will receive a leaflet explaining the changes.

They recognise that the consultation process was appalling. This has not been helped by the forum of health scrutiny chairs from across the region, which met in March, and decided that no consultation was needed on the proposed three centres of excellence – none of which, of course, are in Suffolk! We will no doubt discuss this further at the Health Scrutiny meeting on July 20th. We will also discuss the decision to move immediately to the PPCI model for West Suffolk hospital.

This article in the EADT gives further details:

http://www.eadt.co.uk/content/eadt/news/story.aspx?brand=EADOnline&category=News&tBrand=EADOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=IPED06%20Jul%202009%2023%3A35%3A12%3A510