AN NHS trust has come under fire for having a ‘heavily-biased’ panel looking at whether vascular services should remain in Portsmouth.
Councillors from Portsmouth and Gosport have made the claim, as the Wessex Area Team, which pays for the specialist service, name those who sat on the Wessex Clinical Senate.
As previously reported, the senate was brought together to see how best specialist vein surgery should be carried out along the south coast.
Currently both Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, and Southampton General Hospital run services.
National guidelines recommend fewer centres with more expertise is better, so the NHS is looking to restructure services.
The senate’s report seemed to indicate vascular services are better placed in Southampton.
But that has been criticised, with just one member of the 18-person panel based in Portsmouth, while the majority have links with Southampton.
Wessex stresses the panel is independent and does not represent the view of a senate member’s organisation.
But councillor Peter Eddis, chairman of the health, overview and scrutiny panel at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘While I appreciate the panel members are there as independent experts, people will always lean towards the links they have, and there lies a bias towards Southampton.
‘There is only one out of 18 from Portsmouth, whereas there are quite a few for Southampton, and Dorset.
‘From reading the senate report, it’s quite clear they (Wessex) want one hospital doing the work. They haven’t said Southampton, but they want all Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm work to go there immediately.
‘But I understand AAA is on its way out and interventional radiology is the modern treatment. QA is already set up for that, but that isn’t mentioned.’
Councillor Will Purvis is also a governor for the hospital trust.
He said: ‘I’m shocked at the lack of representation from the Portsmouth area.
‘The huge bias towards Southampton and Dorset has to raise questions about the impartiality of the senate members.’
Councillor Peter Edgar, from Gosport, said that people’s views aren’t being listened to.
He said: ‘It’s disappointing that representation isn’t equal on both sides.
‘It feels like the voices of people served by QA aren’t being represented.’
But Professor William Roche, chairman of the senate, has defended the panel and said it is not biased.
He said: ‘I’m extremely proud of the range of skills and expertise we have.
‘All NHS healthcare provider organisations in the Wessex area were invited to nominate individuals for their specialist skills and knowledge.
‘Responding organisations nominated one individual, all those nominated were accepted as members of the senate, in addition to the five strategic clinical network directors.
‘I’m confident no bias exists in any of our deliberations and we have robust policies in place to enforce our standards of business conduct. We actively manage conflict of interest.’
THE NAMES WHO MAKE UP THE WESSEX CLINICAL SENATE
· Professor William Roche – senate chairman
Southern regional lead for the faculty of medical leadership and management and former professor of pathology at the University of Southampton.
· Dr Gary Connett
Specialist respiratory paediatrician at UHS.
· Dr Denise Cope
Clinical lead for the mental health, dementia and neurological conditions strategic clinical network in Wessex, and associate medical director at Dorset Health Care University NHS Foundation Trust.
· Ms Suzanne Cunningham
Consultant midwife at Southampton University Hospital Trust.
· Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group
Nominate a different person to attend each clinical senate, depending on the topic under discussion.
· Mr Matthew Hayes
Clinical director of the strategic clinical network for cancer within NHS England (Wessex), and former consultant urological surgeon at UHS
· Dr Adrian Higgins
Southampton GP and clinical director for unscheduled care, community services and integrated care for West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group
· Dr Richard Jones
Clinical director of the strategic clinical network for cardiovascular services, and consultant cardiologist at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.
· Dr Chris Kipps
Clinical director for the strategic clinical network at NHS England (Wessex) for mental health, dementia and neurological conditions and consultant neurologist.
· Dr Hayden Kirk
Consultant physiotherapist and lead for the Southampton Stroke Early Supported Discharge Team and Community Neurological Rehabilitation Teams for Solent NHS Trust.
· Dr Ranjit Mahanta
Consultant liaison psychiatrist for older adults working in Surrey & North East Hampshire for Surrey & Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
· Dr Andrew Mortimore
Director of public health for Southampton and interim director of public health for Portsmouth.
· Dr Jim O’Brien
Public Health England centre director for Wessex.
· Dr Alyson O’Donnell
Clinical director for the strategic clinical network for NHS England (Wessex) for maternity, children and young people, and consultant paediatrician, specialising in neonatology, for UHS.
· Dr Simon Plint
Postgraduate dean for Health Education Wessex.
· Mr Frank Rust
Member of the performance screening group for medical practitioners. Member of Hampshire County Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and a member of Safe and Healthy People Select Committee for the Wessex Region.
· Dr Stuart Ward
Medical director and responsible officer for the Wessex Area Team of NHS England.
· Dr Nigel Watson
Chief executive of Wessex Local Medical Committees.