MP speaks out against plans to unit from St Richard’s

MP ANDREW Tyrie has criticised plans to move the vascular surgery unit from St Richard’s Hospital out of the county.

The MP for Midhurst spoke out after the Observer revealed a review had been conducted into the provision of the service in West Sussex.

The study, by the Vascular Society, found patients would be best served by a major surgery centre in Brighton – meaning at least an hour’s travel for residents in the Observer area.

“It is important my constituents have access to frontline medical services and the possibility of the vascular unit at St Richard’s moving out of the local area is worrying,” said the Conservative MP.

Mr Tyrie also backed calls from health leaders in Portsmouth for the city’s hospital to work closely with Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham on vascular surgery, which deals with the major blood vessels.

“Brighton is a long way to travel, particularly in the case of serious conditions,” he said.

“In the disappointing event the service cannot be retained in St Richard’s, I would welcome discussions between the Hampshire and Sussex health authorities about the possibility of a unit which could be shared between the QA hospital and St Richard’s.”

As part of a review into changes to the service in Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, three options were offered: to move surgery to Southampton; to split service between Portsmouth and its neighbour; and to look at Portsmouth and Chichester sharing.

A health panel which explored the second and third choices favoured a share between Portsmouth and Southampton, but Peter Eddis, chairman of the Portsmouth health overview and scrutiny panel, said Chichester and Portsmouth should work together in a bid to save lives.

“We can’t follow the logic of how it is more convenient to take a patient on an hour’s journey to Brighton instead of 20 minutes to QA,” he said.

However Hany Hafez, consultant vascular surgeon at St Richard’s and director of the Sussex Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme, said the move was the right step.

“The review of major vascular surgery in Sussex is concerned with improving care for a very small number of patients, who require highly-specialised treatment,” he said.