We need vein surgery to remain in Portsmouth

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It was back in the autumn of 2011 when a threat to continued provision of vein surgery at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital provoked an impassioned response.

More than 6,000 people signed our Keep It At QA letter and forced Ship, the primary care trust cluster then covering Southampton, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, to reconsider its plans.

The message of the campaign was loud and clear. People didn’t want vascular surgery moving to Southampton. They didn’t want to face longer journeys getting to hospital and being farther away from loved ones.

We said then that patient care must always be at the heart of any decision.

But more than two years on and the powerful argument against moving vascular surgery obviously needs restating.

First there was the news that a structural change in the NHS meant a new risk of the city losing its vascular surgeons.

Ship was declared defunct and the new body funding vascular surgery announced that Portsmouth didn’t meet national criteria on surgeon numbers and amount of operations to retain the work.

Now we reveal a new report has strongly hinted that the majority of vascular services will not be centred in Portsmouth.

The Wessex Clinical Senate, 18 people in the medical field that were brought together in September to look at options, recommends one vascular service between Portsmouth and Southampton. And, crucially, that a surgeon rota system is set up around the area’s trauma centre – which is based in Southampton.

Cutting through the complexities, it all rather sounds as if Southampton will be the preferred option.

So as decision-makers in the NHS’s Wessex Area Team mull over the report before making a pronouncement in the next few weeks, we repeat our message.

Please remember this should be about people and their needs, not bald statistics.

To serve Portsmouth patients properly, we must retain a vascular service in the city.