Vascular surgery decision not likely until after election

A vascular surgeon
A vascular surgeon

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THE general election should not stand in the way of vascular surgery plans being shared with the public.

Mike Hancock, who represents Portsmouth South, said it’s ‘beyond ridiculous’ that the Wessex Area Team, which pays for the specialist vein surgery, have cited it as a reason to stall giving two business cases for vascular provision.

The MP wrote to Sue Davies, head of Wessex, to express concerns over the ongoing delays that could see some vascular services move from Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, to Southampton.

A business case for this, as well as a plan for both sites to form a network, is being drawn up and should be ready by March.

But in a letter responding to Mr Hancock, Ms Davies said that purdah – a period between an announced election and the final election results that prevents government from making announcements about any new initiatives – would mean an announcement to the public would not be made until June.

She said: ‘QA in Portsmouth has a number of interdependent services which require vascular surgeon presence on site during the working week and this presence will continue.

‘Some further detailed work is required over the next few months and taking into account purdah timescales around the general election, it’s likely the business case will be presented to public forums for consideration in early June 2015.’

Mr Hancock said purdah should not be a reason for information to be withheld.

He said: ‘I’m pleased with a quick response from Wessex and that they have given some detail, but it shouldn’t take for an MP to write to them for this information to be given.

‘This idea they will take purdah into account is beyond ridiculous. This information should be put out to the public and I shall be replying to them to express this.’

Vascular surgeons at QA have been working in a network with Southampton since July last year – this will continue until the business models are completed.

Wessex is working to meet national vascular specifications to improve mortality rates in England as it has some of the worst results in Europe – but these changes should have been put in place in October 2013.

Councillors on Portsmouth City Council’s health, overview and scrutiny panel have agreed the proposal to move the majority of vein surgery from Portsmouth to Southampton would count as a significant change.

This means a three-month public consultation would be done, after which a decision would be made by Wessex and any changes implemented in October this year at the earliest.