PEOPLE will be able to have their say on plans to move expert surgeons from Queen Alexandra Hospital.
NHS South Central has been criticised for dragging its heels on consulting the public about proposals to centralise care, which could see QA’s vascular surgeons moved to Southampton General Hospital.
Now the health authority has announced it will start a consultation at the end of the month.
Campaigners who want vascular surgeons – who operate on damaged and ruptured blood vessels – to stay at QA, have welcomed the news.
Gosport councillor Peter Edgar, who is one of QA’s council of governors, said: ‘All I can say is it’s about time too. People have been worried about this for long enough.
‘I hope as many people as possible have their say. This is a huge issue. These surgeons are vital.’
When NHS South Central consults on vascular services, it will be consulting on plans to centralise trauma and stroke care.
This is the general way NHS services seem to be heading, with officials looking to create big centres of excellence.
It is believed QA bosses are not in fear of losing their nationally-renowned stroke service.
But it is also thought that Southampton may become the provider of major trauma care – which would be cases where people have major car accidents and have suffered life-threatening head injuries for example.
Such patients from this area tend to go to Southampton anyway because the hospital has the region’s neurological centre.
If Southampton became the centre for major trauma it would not jeopardise the A&E at QA. But the big concern for QA is the loss of vascular surgeons, who treat hundreds of patients and help other surgeons in an emergency, when a blood vessel becomes damaged during surgery.
NHS South Central has not set an exact date for the consultation.
Sarah Eastman, spokeswoman for the authority, said: ‘The intention is to run the engagement process until the end of September. Feedback will be evaluated before deciding next steps.’