A FIERCE debate over the future of vascular services took place at an open meeting in Scarborough.
A consultation is under way which is proposing that patients who need complex surgery for conditions such as aneurysms could be taken straight to York or Hull.
Yesterday’s meeting, which was held at Falsgrave Community Centre, attracted members of the public and healthcare professionals who wanted to find out what the proposals would mean for patients.
A presentation was given by Pia Clinton-Tarestad, of the Specialised Commissioning Group, who said the changes were aimed at improving survival chances and overall care for patients.
She said: “Doctors told us we really needed to look at this and identified it as a priority.”
Vascular services include all investigations and treatments for diseases of the large arteries outside the chest, including the blood supply to the brain, arms and legs.
It includes routine operations for varicose veins and more serious, complex surgery for conditions such as aortic aneurysms which can be fatal.
Miss Clinton-Tarestad explained that day surgery and outpatients appointments will remain in Scarborough, but around 100 to 200 people a year who need complex or emergency surgery would go to York or Hull.
This met with opposition from some members of the public, who raised questions about journey times and extra pressure on ambulance services.
Cllr Pat Marsburg, who represents Falsgrave Park ward, said: “I’m not happy about any of this. The ambulance service is not coping as it is.
“I wouldn’t like to think that with all these transfers that there would be deaths on the roadside.
“I do understand that surgeons support this, but I don’t think they have any other choice.”
Another attendee added: “The roads to York and Hull are atrocious and there’s a lot more heavy traffic in summer.
“The travel times will be horrendous.”
Chris Welsh, medical director of NHS Yorkshire and the Humber, replied: “At the moment patients are taken to Scarborough Hospital, where four or five nights out of seven there is not a vascular surgeon on call and patients are transferred to Hull.
“In the future, patients would be taken directly to York or Hull, with some going to James Cook in Middlesbrough.
“It may be further, but it will get people to the appropriate treatment quicker.”
One member of the public asked why Scarborough Hospital could not be built up and become a centre for vascular excellence itself.
Miss Clinton-Tarestad replied: “We have got to meet minimum numbers and have a sufficiently large population, which Scarborough does not have.
“Plus we need to have six surgeons in a centre so they can be on an on-call rota.
“However, there would still be vascular surgeons in Scarborough on a daily basis.”
The consultation closes tomorrow and the outcome will be considered at a meeting next month. A decision is expected in March.
If you would like to have your say go to www.yhscg.nhs.uk or call the consultation team on (01226) 433681.