The proposed centralisation of complex vascular surgery in Hampshire has been mothballed after trusts failed to agree on the plans.

Pre-consultation on the “Safe and Sustainable” reconfiguration had aimed to set up a single network for vascular services across Portsmouth and Southampton. Original suggestions were for all complex surgery to be concentrated in a specialist unit at Southampton General Hospital.

However, opposition to the plans was greater than expected. Patients were concerned by the prospect of travelling from Portsmouth to Southampton, Portsmouth Hospitals Trust objected and a local campaign ensued. Attempts were made to reach a compromise. As recently as late January the local primary care trust cluster was reporting “considerable progress” – but HSJ understands the providers never agreed on how services should be spread between them.

The status quo will prevail for now, although Portsmouth must recruit extra consultants to ensure its services are clinically viable.

A statement from the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth PCT cluster said it was “very disappointed” at the outcome, and said commissioners would keep the Portsmouth service under review to ensure it met “all of the local and national standards”.

According to the cluster’s board papers, local clinicians are divided on the best way forward. However a standalone unit in Portsmouth “would represent a challenge for the trust in the longer term”.

Another a factor was “the long-term sustainability of Portsmouth Hospitals Trust”. Commissioners were working “to ensure that all opportunities to minimise any financial impact on Queen Alexandra Hospital are explored”.