HOPES that a local review could help save Wirral’s vascular services centre have been dashed.
Last week the Globe’s website revealed that a plea for the Health Secretary to formally intervene in the controversial decision to transfer the specialist surgery from Wirral’s main hospital to Chester had been turned down.
An independent panel - recognised as the UK expert on NHS service change - ruled the processes which led to the decision being made were fair and reasonable.
However the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which acts as lead adviser to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, also recommended it would be prudent for a local review to be carried out to “re-examine whether the current proposals meet the requirements for a modern vascular network.”
But leader of Wirral Council Cllr Phil Davies has now been told any further inquiry would be purely to consider logistics of transferring the services to Chester and would not re-open the issue of whether the move should go ahead.
The refusal to look at the plans came in a letter from Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.
Councillor Davies said: “We are extremely disappointed with this outcome, and that the Secretary of State has not recognised the need to examine the decision to move these excellent, specialist services – which have saved many lives - from Arrowe Park Hospital.
“We are not alone in expressing our concern at the move, which could see patients in our borough having to travel a maximum of 20 miles or more to receive emergency care, increasing stress at what is already an extremely stressful time.”
Councillor Davies said the independent panel’s suggestion a further local review should be carried out has been taken up with Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral NHS Commissioning Board.
“I thought the door had been left open by this suggestion,” he said.
“But I’ve been informed that any new review would not be to consider whether vascular services should remain at Arrowe, but would only look at the issues of implementing their switch to Chester.
“This was a bitter disappointment.
“I share the views expressed by some clinicians at Arrowe Park that this could be the start of a gradual demotion of our hospital away from its current status as a leading centre for major surgical procedures.”
Wirral Council's health and wellbeing overview and scutiny committee had expressed its concern in two letters to the health secretary about the effects that changes to vascular services across Cheshire and Merseyside would have on Wirral residents under the proposed new arrangements.
Councillor Davies had also personally written to the minister requesting a review.