IT surely can be no exaggeration to say that lives will be put at risk if expert surgeons are moved away from the Queen Alexandra Hospital in yet another round of NHS reorganisation.
This time it is the vascular surgeons whose role is under review, with a plan that they should be based at a regional centre at Southampton General Hospital as part of plans to centralise care.
Perhaps the role of vascular surgeons is not the first that people think about, but it is nothing short of vital.
Their responsibility is to repair blood vessels and to treat potentially-fatal aneurysms.
And their work involves prevention as well as cure, with early surgery to stop such dangerous problems from developing in the first place.
As we report today, they are also on call for emergencies in other surgery in which blood vessels could be damaged, such as cancer operations.
So we join health representatives and patient groups in expressing our incredulity that they could be moved away from the QA – the ‘super-hospital’ promised to the hundreds of thousands of people who live in this area and for which we are all paying a fortune.
Gosport councillor Peter Edgar is one of those who expresses concern and, as a man who has for many years served the public’s health interests in many capacities, we should heed his warning that lives could be lost in ambulances if the switch is approved.
We appreciate that the proposed move comes after recommendations by The Vascular Society of Great Britain for regional centres of excellence, but we do not accept that it can be good for the people of Portsmouth and its surrounding towns and villages.
The NHS South Central Health Trust will embark on a public consultation.
It must be full, comprehensive and wholly inclusive of the views of people in this area.
And we must hope that it results in a resounding rejection of any move to relocate vascular surgeons away from the city of Portsmouth.