QA surgeon urges fight to keep vital vascular service

Paige Howitt

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A CANCER surgeon has said we should ‘fight tooth and nail’ to keep vascular surgery at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Simon Toh is the latest person to back the Keep it at QA campaign – which was launched by The News yesterday in a bid to send a strong message to regional health bosses that we do not want our vascular surgeons moved to Southampton.

Mr Toh has had experience of having to call for a vascular surgeon when a blood vessel has become damaged during surgery and needs expert repair.

He said: ‘When we are in trouble, a vascular surgeon is on site to help. They are the experts when it comes to blood vessels and they are vital. They save lots of lives here.

‘When you have to call on them it’s often a life-threatening situation – such as injuries to a major blood vessel – and you need help quickly.

‘We definitely feel more confident knowing there’s a vascular surgeon around. It allows us to take on big operations because we know they’re there to help if we need it.’

As previously reported, NHS South Central carried out a review of vascular services across the region and has made an interim decision that vascular surgery should be carried out at Southampton General Hospital – in a bid to centralise care.

But Mr Toh, along with many other clinicians and health experts, says the proposal could put lives at risk and would be detrimental for QA.

‘We cannot have a vascular surgeon coming from Southampton during the course of an operation,’ said Mr Toh.

‘If we’re operating and something goes wrong with a blood vessel, we could have to wait half an hour or more for a surgeon to get here. The delay could be too long. Alternatively we’d have to transfer patients to Southampton which again means a delay.

‘If surgeons are moved it not only means that people needing specific vascular surgery would have to go to Southampton but it would have huge implications in terms of what the rest of us can do as well.

‘We could have to limit the amount of cancer surgery we carry out, because we’re not happy to take on the risk without a vascular surgeon around.’

Mr Toh is now urging the public to get behind the Keep it at QA campaign.

He said: ‘To take the service away from QA would be madness. There’s no doubt about it – it’s a good service and it’s working well.

‘And QA is big enough and busy enough to warrant having a vascular service. We shouldn’t just lie back and let this happen. We should fight tooth and nail to keep it here.’

A public consultation about the proposal will begin in the summer.