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VERITY LUSH: Yet another example of distasteful American influence sweeping the UK

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We’ve already argued what we believe is a very strong case for keeping vascular surgery at the Queen Alexandra Hospital at Cosham rather than moving it up the M27 to Southampton General.

But when you read John Withers’s words on the subject today, it really brings home how the location of vein experts can be the difference between life and death.

The 85-year-old is convinced that he would not be alive today if vascular surgeons had not been on hand at the QA to quickly operate on him after his aorta burst, causing blood to leak into his body.

He says simply: ‘The reason why I am still alive is because I was able to get access to care close by.’

And that is the crux of our campaign to keep vascular surgeons based at the QA. The farther that people have to travel to receive treatment, the bigger the delay. And delays can risk lives.

The experts, those who actually carry out this life-saving surgery, agree. Graham Sutton, a consultant vascular surgeon at the QA, is firmly against any move to Southampton and says: ‘If you needed to travel farther to find expert care, that would be different. But the QA already has quality treatment available.’

But NHS South Central, the area’s strategic health authority, is still proposing transferring the surgeons to Southampton as one of a number of options.

It has begun a six-week ‘engagement’ process, but this does not call for public views.

Our Keep It At QA campaign is demanding a full three-month consultation on proposals by area health officials – and many of you have added your support by signing an open letter (which you can download from portsmouth.co.uk).

We’ve been inundated with stories of how you or your relatives or friends have cause to be grateful to the vascular surgeons and don’t want to see them moved.

If enough people join the campaign, we believe the health authority will have to listen.

So we urge you to sign the letter – and keep this vital service in Portsmouth.