Patients face longer journey for treatment

3:00pm Wednesday 30th January 2013

THERE are fears that lives could be lost if proposals to create specialist centres for vascular surgery go ahead.

Opponents said the plans by The Vascular Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland would result in fewer centres of excellence and patients in Wiltshire will face longer journeys for treatment.

Each centre would serve a minimum population of 800,000 and the nearest specialist hospitals to Wiltshire would be in Bournemouth, Bristol and Cheltenham.

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which will take over organising and buying health services from NHS Wiltshire in April, and Wiltshire Council’s Heath Select Committee expressed concerns about the plans.

The proposals would result in vascular surgery no longer taking place at Salisbury District Hospital.

Vascular surgery is also provided at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, while patients in the Swindon area go to John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

At Wiltshire Council’s Health Select Committee on January 17, Jill Whittington, a commissioning support manager at the CCG, said: “Although in each area of Wiltshire there would be diagnostic and outpatients services, vascular surgery would not be performed in Wiltshire. Our concerns are that 15 per cent of our population would be more than 60 minutes’ blue light travel time from a vascular centre.”

She said Salisbury District Hospital was already delivering good results and the plan would probably only reduce mortality rates by one or two a year.

Maggie Rae, Wiltshire’s director of public health, said she was concerned that if vascular services were lost from hospitals, other services could be vulnerable to closure.

Committee member Pip Ridout said: “I live in Warminster, which is equally split between Salisbury and Bath. If you take them both out, travel times to Bournemouth and Bristol are incredibly long.”

Coun Peter Davis, a former ambulance driver, said: “If someone needs emergency vascular surgery they have got a considerable journey at high speed on Wiltshire’s roads to one of these centres. I think it will be a very unusual event if they get to the hospital alive.”

Councillors agreed to write to The Vascular Society outlining their concern at the plans.

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