REGIONAL health officials have been criticised for dragging their heels on consulting the public over plans to move expert surgeons from Queen Alexandra Hospital.
NHS South Central, the regional strategic health authority, is carrying out a review of vascular services across the area and considering moving QA’s surgeons – who operate on damaged and ruptured blood vessels – to Southampton General Hospital to centralise care.
The News revealed a review was taking place in April and health officials assured the public they would be consulted in the ‘summer’.
But details of a public consultation are still yet to be announced, leaving campaigners angry and patients and surgeons worried.
Gosport councillor Peter Edgar, who sits on both Portsmouth and Hampshire’s health overview and scrutiny panels and who is one of the council of governors at QA, said: ‘Everybody is in limbo. We know a review’s taking place but summer’s started and we’ve heard no more about a consultation.
‘It’s causing a lot of patients and surgeons to worry so the sooner the options are announced and publicly debated, the better.’
NHS South Central has said it hopes to make a decision by the end of this year.
But some are concerned that with no consultation under way, regional bosses are hoping to rush it through with minimal public debate.
Syd Rapson, one of QA’s council of governors, said: ‘The review’s a sham. They’re just going through the motions to give the appearance that they’re going to do this properly and consult people. But I believe they’ve got an agenda and it will go ahead regardless.’
But NHS South Central has defended its position.
Simon Cook, associate director of acute care, said: ‘Final options are yet to be developed. This is a complex clinical area and it is far more important that we get the options for consultation correct, rather than try and rush the process.
‘We know people are keen to hear about future options and once options have been developed local people will be encouraged to share their views during a consultation.’