Health bosses say centralising vascular surgery in Bristol will lead to better outcomes for patients.

Plans are being finalised to create fewer specialist centres at hospitals in England. For people in Wiltshire this means their nearest centres would be Cheltenham, Bristol and Bournemouth.

The centres would be where emergency and inpatient vascular surgery would take place and be available 24/7.

Local hospitals – Great Western in Swindon, Royal United in Bath and Salisbury District Hospital – would provide day case surgery and outpatient clinics.

The Cheltenham centre began in February while Bristol and Bourne-mouth will be set up later this year.

At a meeting of Wiltshire Council’s Health Select Committee in Trowbridge on May 6, Marcus Brooks, consultant vascular surgeon at University Hospital, Bristol, said the UK’s average mortality rate for vascular patients was eight per cent compared to two per cent in the rest of the world.

He said: “Reconfiguring three centres (in Bristol and Bath) into one will allow us to concentrate the expertise and have a 24/7 service. We will continue to provide a vascular presence in all of the hospitals.”

The committee was told that public consultation showed that people were willing to travel up to 90 minutes to a specialist centre and an hour to an outpatient clinic.

Johnathan Earnshaw, consultant vascular surgeon at Cheltenham General Hospital, said Cheltenham had seen more patients from Swindon than had been anticipated.

He said: “We have had a large number of patients from Swindon who swamped our service and we are struggling a little bit. We are struggling to keep our waiting times and our outpatient clinics going, they are jam packed full. We are running outpatients in Swindon, which is rudimentary at the moment.”

The committee had previously expressed concerns about the plans but on Tuesday agreed to endorse the scheme. Councillor Mary Douglas called for the service planned for the RUH to operate seven days a week rather than Monday to Friday.