Trust bosses must do all they can to find the cash

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COMMENT: Government needs to dig deep to find extra cash

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Our Keep It At QA campaign has been urging NHS bosses to keep vital vascular surgeons in the city – and now it’s looking hopeful that could actually happen.

We report today that Portsmouth’s NHS Trust has drawn up plans to create a new ‘vascular centre’ at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, meaning we would retain surgery that was in danger of being relocated along the M27 at Southampton General.

The viability of these proposals is still being assessed, with GP meetings taking place over the next week so that their views can be canvassed. But it’s a positive move that will be welcomed by the many people who have backed our call for vascular surgery to stay at the city’s superhospital.

Earlier this year we strongly criticised NHS South Central, the area’s strategic health authority, for beginning a six-week ‘engagement’ process about a proposed transfer of vein experts from the QA to Southampton that did not actually call for people’s views.

That was wrong and the huge response we had from the public showed they had very strong opinions on the matter and wanted to be allowed to express them.

The argument against moving vascular surgeons to Southampton has never changed. The farther that people have to travel for urgent operations, the bigger the delay and the greater the risk.

So we welcome the news that primary care trust cluster Ship is examining new proposals from Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust to keep vascular surgeons here and make the service sustainable by treating people from a wider area of Portsmouth, south east Hampshire and Chichester.

The trust believes it could make ‘necessary changes’ to meet NHS South Central specifications, but it will need investment for more surgeons and to boost other areas of the service it provides.

We realise budgets are particularly tight and finding that money won’t be easy.

But we urge the Portsmouth trust to do all it can to come up with the cash so that we can continue to have a city-based vascular surgery service that is the equal of other hospitals.