Fears over the future of South Cumbria’s vascular services
Published at 16:23, Tuesday, 26 February 2013
MORE than 100 medical experts have voiced serious concerns over threats to patient safety and the survival of local hospitals, as a row over the future of South Cumbria’s vascular services continues.
The criticisms follow a regional decision to centralise specialist surgery at centres in Preston, Blackburn and Carlisle.
Mark Tomlinson is a consultant surgeon at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which currently performs top-level operations for Furness patients at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
UHMBT recently failed in an appeal against the decision not to choose the RLI as a specialist centre.
Mr Tomlinson made clear he was not speaking on behalf of the trust, but from personal experience.
He said the proposals contradict recommended assessment and transfer times for vascular conditions, meaning moving services could put patients at risk.
He added: “Vascular surgery and radiology are key services if patients are bleeding or have arterial blockages preventing blood reaching parts of the body, and time is of the essence to resolve either problem.”
As a result, Mr Tomlinson said, people may have to travel further for other procedures currently provided by UHMBT because of the risk of vascular complications.
He added: “Whilst clinicians do understand the need for some centralisation of services as newer treatments become available, the lack of provision of some of these services within UHMBT will inexorably deplete the staffing, experience and morale of clinicians to such a point that a nadir of insufficient key services will remain.”
The surgeon relayed his concerns in a letter to the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Health Committee for Lancashire and Cumbria.
After the committee chose to approve the decision anyway, Mr Tomlinson sought his colleagues’ support before writing to the Cumbria OSHC. Within a day, more than 100 had co-signed his letter.
Cumbria OSHC voted against the move, referring the decision to the government.
Health minister Dan Poulter will meet Cumbria and Lancashire’s MPs early next month.
Mr Tomlinson is urging South Cumbria’s residents to contact their MPs to make their views known beforehand.
Meanwhile John Abraham, UHMBT clinical director for surgery and critical care, said the trust is awaiting the outcome of the referral.
He said: “We appreciate the clinician’s concerns regarding the decision by commissioners to remove an element of specialist vascular work, including emergency interventions, from our trust.
“As we have said previously, we were disappointed that our formal appeal against the decision was not upheld.
“We would like to reassure the public that whatever happens, we will continue to work with our commissioners in the best interest of our patients.”
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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