CONCERN over the distance South Lakeland patients will have to travel to get treatment for conditions that affect the body’s circulation have been expressed by councillors.
Kendal Town Council believes that plans to centralise vascular services at three in-patient centres across Cumbria and Lancashire will be bad news for patients who would normally travel to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
The Cumberland Infirmary at Carlisle, Preston Royal Hospital and Royal Blackburn Hospital have been chosen as the ‘centres of excellence.’ It follows a review launched in 2010 to consider the most effective way of delivering vascular services.
It recommended that eight centres currently offering in-patient treatment should be reduced to three.
Councillors expressed their concern at the distances patients from south Cumbria would have to travel for emergency operations.
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has also voiced his objections, tabling an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.
He says the move would leave ‘vast geographical areas between south Cumbria and north Lancashire danger-ously uncovered’.
The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust has also lodged an appeal after it was not selected to deliver a centre of excellence at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Commissioners said they felt the trust was unlikely to prove successful in ‘’transitioning’ the service to take on a population of at least 800,000 people.
They also said they were aware of recent concerns that the Care Quality Commission had voiced about the trust, although that did not form part of the scoring process.
Coun Matthew Severn said the trust was improving and changing and that the RLI should have been chosen.
He said there would be a knock-on effect as a vascular surgery reduction in hospitals could render them unable to carry out more complex surgeries.
But Dr Jim Gardner, medical director for NHS North Lancashire, said that vascular surgeons would not be removed from local hospitals.
“Barrow, Lancaster and Kendal will continue to play a pivotal role in primary care management and prevention, diagnostics and investigations, day case procedures and outpatient follow-up care,” he said.
“Many highly successful district hospitals in the UK do not perform arterial surgery and have surgeons who con-tinue to perform other types of surgery, and continue to do that successfully.”