Fears for vascular surgery unit

First published in News by

PROPOSALS to create specialist centres for vascular surgery could see the closure of the vascular department at Salisbury District Hospital.

Under the plans put forward by the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, patients would face longer journeys for treatment.

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

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

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.”

The trust currently provides a wide range of vascular services at the hospital including emergency and planned surgery for aortic aneurysm repair, arterial surgery and minor procedures to treat varicose veins and leg ulcers.

It also provides outpatient services and one-stop multidisciplinary clinics where patients can have their consultation, diagnosis and treatment at Salisbury District Hospital, Westminster Memorial Hospital in Shaftesbury, Warminster Community Hospital and the Ringwood Medical Centre, which enables patients to be treated closer to home.

The department, which includes three vascular surgeons, two interventional radiologists, five vascular technologists, and three specialist vascular nurses, serves a local population of around 250,000 people across Wiltshire.

In addition, as part of the Dorset and Wiltshire Vascular Network, it serves a population of around one million people for emergency vascular treatment.

Hospital chief executive Peter Hill’s report to a trust board meeting on Monday states: “Having raised concerns within the critical network, the commissioners have asked for the options to be reviewed further. “Discussions are ongoing and any final decision has now been delayed, together with an implementation date which is likely to be 2014/15.”

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