STRUCTURE: “Considerable progress” has been made towards reconciling a dispute between two trusts over the future of vascular services in Hampshire.

Board papers for the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth primary care trust cluster said competing providers were close to reaching an agreement over the issue.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and University Hospitals of Southampton NHS Foundation Trust had disagreed over plans to move complex vascular surgery out of Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth.

A single specialist unit was proposed for Southampton General Hospital.

The board papers said: “Since the beginning of this process, the trusts have found it difficult to agree a way forward, given the different pressure that each of them faces in maintaining a wide range of safe, high quality services.”

“However over the past few weeks, there has been considerable progress in this regard.”

Although clinical opinions on the matter differ, talks with local clinical commissioning groups and the cluster have resulted in a new partnership model.

This will see a vascular surgeon on site at Queen Alexandra Hospital seven days a week, with a second surgeon on duty five days a week.

Discussions on exactly how that would work “are taking longer than expected and resulted in the delay to the start of public consultation”.

The papers said: “Rather than rush into a public consultation, it is important to give our local clinicians time to work through exactly how they can deliver the best possible vascular service to people right across southern Hampshire.”

Commissioners have paid particular attention to the financial impact of the reconfiguration on the Portsmouth trust.

The papers add: “The PCT Cluster and local CCGs are all committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. We have agreed to work with both Trusts to ensure that all opportunities to minimise any financial impact on Queen Alexandra Hospital are explored.”