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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary to be specialist vascular centre

Carlisle has been chosen as the site of one of just three specialist vascular centres in the region.

Dr Mike Bewick photo
Dr Mike Bewick

Bosses at the Cumberland Infirmary say it will help them retain and attract specialists, as well as giving scope to develop services in future.

Vascular specialists deal with conditions affecting the blood and circulation system, including amputations and ruptured aneurysms.

Nationally a major shake-up of these services is underway. It aims to improve quality of care and increase the chance of survival for patients requiring complex surgery.

At the moment this is carried out across seven sites in Cumbria and Lancashire. However it is recognised that where specialists are treating higher numbers of patients, the services are safer and outcomes better.

It was therefore proposed to reduce the number of centres to three specialised units providing round-the-clock care, 365 days of the year.

Following a review it was recommended one of these should be in Cumbria and two in Lancashire.

Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, the Royal Blackburn Hospital and Royal Preston

Hospital have now been put forward to become Vascular Intervention Centres. It means routine and planned vascular treatment will continue to be provided at all current hospitals, but patients will have to travel for more specialised care.

The North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is already offering this type of specialist surgery at the Carlisle hospital. The review group decided that because of Cumbria’s geographic challenges and travelling times, it was essential to keep this level of expertise in the county.

NHS Cumbria and NHS Lancashire have now approved the Carlisle centre. However, it will need both regional and national approval before the decision becomes final.

Dr Mike Bewick, NHS Cumbria’s medical director, said: “It’s positive that we’ve been able to secure a specialist centre in Cumbria so residents can benefit from the best possible treatment within the required 90 minutes travel time.

“In Cumbria we face many 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 the county alone.

“The Cumberland Infirmary is the only hospital to provide more complex vascular surgery. This allows the team to provide other hospitals with expert advice as part of a network.”

NHS Lancashire’s Dr Jim Gardner, who was involved in the review, added: “There is considerable evidence and professional backing to support the creation of the vascular network and the three specialist centres. We know that it will result in more effective and safer services and most importantly, better patient outcomes.”

Mike Walker, medical director and vascular surgeon, said: “Residents of Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway will benefit from highly specialised treatment close to home and it will also provide staff with the opportunity to further develop their skills and experience.”


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