IT’S been 1,627 days but still there’s no answer on whether vascular services remain safe in Portsmouth.
Despite four years of reviews, options and discussions, promises of consultations and meetings, there is still no clarity on whether specialist vein surgeons will remain at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Now politicians are calling on health bosses to draw a line under it all and make a decision once.
NHS England Wessex, which pays for the specialised service, is looking to centralise vascular surgeons at Southampton General Hospital.
It’s a plan that has been on the table since April 26, 2011, when the then strategic authority South Central felt QA did not fulfil criteria set by the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
Plans should have been in place by October 2012, but three years on from that and the service’s future still hangs in the balance.
Currently vascular services are still being carried out at QA and clinicians in Portsmouth work with those in Southampton to ensure patients are getting the best treatment.
Last month the Vascular Society visited both QA and Southampton to see for themselves how the work is being carried out.
Now Wessex said it will wait for the outcome of the society’s findings before looking at when to launch a formal three-month consultation on the options.
One option includes maintaining the ‘network’ model across the two cities, while the second is for most services to move to Southampton.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘Moving the surgeons away would undermine the hospital and all that it offers.
‘It’s bad it has taken a long time and to get to this point.
‘If you were going to have something imposed on you because something isn’t working, then taking this long to make sure it’s the right decision must surely mean this hospital is more than capable of doing it.
‘I’m pleased there’s still a chance the surgeons can stay at QA, but there have been various consultations over the years and changes haven’t been made so it needs to be accepted QA can do it.
‘Surgeons across both sites are working together to ensure best care is given to the patients and that’s what should be at the heart.’
Councillor John Ferrett, is chairman of Portsmouth City Council’s health, overview and scrutiny panel (Hosp), and said a line needs to be drawn under the matter.
He said: ‘It’s troubling a decision still hasn’t been made, especially after so many councillors and residents have given their opinion on this.
‘It does seem to be going on for a long time and there comes a time when you make a decision and then draw a line under the whole thing.’
Gosport councillor Peter Edgar, who sits on the Hosp panels for both Portsmouth and Hampshire, has been campaigning for services to stay at QA from the start.
He said: ‘It does seem the arrangement between the two sites is working successfully, and I’d like to see that carried on.
‘Clearly if a decision to change this will need consulting on, so we’ll have to see what the options are.’
NHS England Wessex confirmed a clinical review had taken place.
A spokesman said: ‘The review took place over two days in August and is aimed at providing expert and independent clinical input into the design of future options for services.
‘It’s vital we ensure sufficient clinical input into the options appraisal for the future of vascular services in southern Hampshire.
‘The options will be subject to wide consultation before any decisions are taken.’
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, said the society inspected a number of services that are also supported by vascular surgeons.
A spokesman said: ‘A review of vascular services was carried out by the president and the vice-president of the Vascular Society to consider how vascular services were being delivered both now and in the future.
‘The review team spent one day at QA and spoke to vascular surgeons and vascular interventional radiologists, as well as clinicians from all the relevant medical specialities such as diabetes, nephrology, urology, cancer services and transplant surgery.
‘They visited all the relevant areas of the hospital including radiology, critical care, theatres and the vascular lab and were clearly very impressed with the facilities PHT has to offer.’
Recommendations to NHS England Wessex should be ready in around two weeks.