In agreeing to hold a public consultation on the future of vascular surgeons at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, health bosses have done the right thing.
What is disappointing is that it has taken a good deal of people power and a campaign by this newspaper to get them to change their minds.
We strongly criticised NHS South Central, the area’s strategic health authority, for beginning a six-week ‘engagement’ process about a proposed transfer of vein experts from the QA to Southampton General Hospital that did not actually call for the views of the public.
But in the hundreds of responses we’ve had from readers, it’s clear people feel very strongly that the surgeons should remain in Cosham at our new superhospital – and that they should be allowed to voice their opinion on the matter.
The reasoning is simple. The farther that people have to travel for urgent operations, the bigger the delay and the greater the risk to their lives.
Now the PCT cluster Ship, which represents Southampton, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, has promised to ensure there is full public consultation before any decisons are made.
Chief executive Debbie Fleming said: ‘We are keen to hear the views of people – whether they are patients, clinicians or members of the public – and use these to help develop proposals which will form part of a formal consultation process.’
This is welcome proof that when people unite in opposition to something they feel so strongly about, they are heard by those in positions of influence.
Now as many people as possible must take Ms Fleming up on her word.
Let Ship know exactly what you think of an option being considered to move emergency and planned complex vascular surgery down the M27 to Southampton.
You have the chance to affect which way the bosses at NHS South Central decide to go on this hugely controversial issue.
Have your say and don’t let such an important service be lost from Portsmouth.