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NHS Cumbria's board has today backed plans for a specialist vascular surgery centre to be located in the county in Carlisle. Vascular services are being modernised throughout the United Kingdom to improve clinical outcomes for patients who require more complex surgery to increase their chances of survival.
It is well-recognised by vascular experts that where such services treat high numbers of patients, the services are safer and the resulting clinical outcomes for patients are better. The ideal service for specialist vascular surgery is considered to be specialist vascular intervention centres which can provide round the clock care, 365 days a year.
Such specialist intervention centres are being set up across the country, and are based on recommendations by the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and supported by the All Parliamentary Select Committee on Vascular Surgery.
In Cumbria alongside Lancashire and parts of Greater Manchester, health services leaders commissioned a review of vascular services led by vascular surgeons, interventional radiologists and anaesthetists from across the region as part of a Vascular Surgery Clinical Advisory Group.
Following the review, the group recommended the establishment of one clinical network across the Cumbria and Lancashire region with three specialist vascular Intervention Centres. One centre was recommended for Cumbria, with two centres recommended in Lancashire.
Under this proposal, routine and planned vascular treatment will continue to be provided for patients at their local hospital. This will include all outpatient and day case vascular surgery. All specialist inpatient care will take place at a Vascular Intervention Centre where patients will receive their full episode of care before being discharged home or transferred to their local hospital for rehabilitation.
Following a lengthy and detailed procurement process to identify which hospitals could provide the specialist services, the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle alongside the Royal Blackburn Hospital and Royal Preston Hospitals in Lancashire have been selected as the three specialist centres. It is anticipated that these three hospitals will be supported by a proposed region-wide vascular clinical network.
Of all the hospital trusts who have applied to become specialist centres, only one trust, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has a hospital within Cumbria already offering this type of specialist surgery. After reviewing all the applications the Vascular Review group decided that due to Cumbria’s geographic challenges and travelling times one specialist centre must be located in Cumbria. As a result the Cumbria and Lancashire clinical review team in partnership with the Cumbria and Lancashire Cardiac and Stroke Network are supporting the bid for the Cumberland infirmary in Carlisle to be named as a specialist vascular centre.
As a significant amount of routine vascular outpatient and day case vascular surgery will continue at local hospitals, all hospitals and their staff will work together to run the network and the specialist intervention centres.
Following the approval for the decision by the NHS Cumbria and NHS Lancashire boards, further engagement with a Joint Cumbria and Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee will take place before the decision is taken to the North of England NHS Specialised Commissioning Board and the newly established NHS National Commissioning Board before any decision is final.
Dr Mike Bewick is NHS Cumbria’s Medical Director. He said: “It’s positive that following this review we’ve been able to secure a specialist centre in Cumbria so residents within the county can reach a specialist centre and benefit from the best possible treatment from a highly trained team within the require 90 minutes travel time. In Cumbria we face a large number of challenges when it comes to geography and with only three centres across the network it was important that we were not left to rely on services outside of the county alone.
“Currently the Cumberland Infirmary is the only hospital in the county to provide more complex vascular surgery so this allows the team to build on their existing skills and provide other hospitals providing day case vascular surgery and out-patient follow ups with expert advice as part of a network.”
Dr Jim Gardner, Medical Director for NHS Lancashire has been clinically involved in the review. He said: “There is considerable evidence and professional backing to support the creation of the vascular network, and the three specialist vascular intervention centres. We know that the creation of these centres will result in more effective and safer services and most importantly - better patient outcomes.
“Over the last eighteen months an enormous amount of work has been undertaken by vascular surgeons and other health professionals to carefully work out the best possible arrangements for the specialist vascular intervention services. The proposals are exciting and as they stand will benefit vascular patients who require specialist input. With a strong network of hospitals and vascular professionals providing routine and planned care, this proposal really will modernise vascular surgery in Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester making it safe and effective for patients who require it.”