CAMPAIGNERS have lost their fight to keep vascular health services in Morecambe Bay after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed they would move to three regional sites.

People suffering with circulatory problems, which often follow heart attacks and strokes, will now have to travel to Carlisle, Preston or Blackburn.

At the moment, they can be treated at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Mr Hunt made the announcement a short time ago in the House of Commons.

The three sites will serve the whole of Cumbria and Lancashire, plus parts of Greater Manchester and South West Scotland.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron slammed the decision and said it would leave a significant number of people in isolated areas of South Cumbria at serious risk.

And Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said Mr Hunt had not done enough to reassure patients.

Mr Farron said: “I am completely dismayed by this decision and outraged by the total disregard shown to rural communities in South Cumbria and North Lancashire.

“This decision to move vascular services from Morecambe Bay will have dangerous consequences.

“Our vascular services unit has not only developed a local reputation but also a national one and removing these services hugely undermines the trust’s efforts to recover.

“I am incredibly disappointed that the health ministers have let us down.”

Mr Woodcock added: “Families from across South Cumbria who rely on the life-saving specialist vascular services provided at Royal Lancaster Infirmary will be dismayed by the government's decision to make them to travel all the way to Preston, Blackburn or Carlisle to get treatment.

“The medical evidence we presented was clear and the secretary of state has not done nearly enough to show that that vascular patients will not be put at risk by his very disappointing decision.”

The relocation of services was first proposed during a regional review of vascular provision across the North West in 2012.

Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, campaigned against the move.

George Nasmyth, the trust's medical director, said: “We were aware of the National Clinical Advisory Team’s recommendation that the proposed removal of an element of specialist vascular work, including emergency interventions, from the trust should go ahead.

“These recommendations are in line with the Secretary of State for Health’s decision today.

“We are disappointed by the outcome and know that this will be shared by staff and patients.

“We will look to resolve this by working in collaboration with commissioners and other local health providers to ensure that patients continue to receive safe and high quality care.”