Watchdog panel welcomes rethink on surgery plan

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COUNCILLORS have welcomed plans for a full consultation to be held to determine the future of vascular surgeons in Portsmouth.

As revealed by The News yesterday, health bosses have agreed to a three-month consultation after mounting public pressure through our Keep It At QA campaign.

Portsmouth City Council’s health overview and scrutiny panel yesterday approved the NHS decision to fully explore three options.

Councillor Peter Eddis, chairman of the panel, said: ‘I feared this decision may have slipped through without formal consultation.

‘My fears are allayed as a consultation will be taking place, but maybe there’s a lesson here for the future – don’t start by saying that “maybe” a consultation should be held.’

The primary care trust cluster Ship, which represents Southampton, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, is in charge of the decision over QA’s surgeons.

Stuart Ward, medical director of the ‘Ship’ cluster, said: ‘This is a lesson for us.

‘We get told to start with an engagement process, but we don’t all know what this phase is.

‘We were told we were doing the right thing with an engagement phase, but there will definitely be a consultation phase.’

It was also recommended that a joint Portsmouth and Hampshire health overview and scrutiny committee be created to oversee the consultation, which looks at three proposals.

The first would see emergency and planned complex vascular surgery being carried out at Southampton General Hospital, but a vascular service would be retained at the Queen Alexandra Hospital at Cosham. Portsmouth residents who need certain types of vascular surgery, would be taken to Southampton, but vascular surgeons at QA would still be doing initial assessments, treating day cases and supporting other planned operations for conditions such as cancer.

The second option would mean vascular surgeons at QA would cover the Portsmouth and Chichester areas.

The third choice would see surgery shared between Portsmouth and Southampton.