Regular readers will know I am committed to the highest quality NHS healthcare for Wycombe residents. For specialist procedures, there is often a tension between quality and location: time and again, clinical imperatives on safety and quality lead to centralisation to enable consultants and other staff to deliver expert care.

So, bearing in mind the debate I called in 2013, I was concerned to hear about changes to vascular services at Wycombe Hospital. From April 2016, patients from Buckinghamshire who seek specialist vascular surgery – other than carotid endarterectomy, related to stroke care – have been offered procedures at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

My staff attended a recent Chiltern CCG meeting that considered this issue and I recently met with Dr Geoff Payne, Medical Director for NHS England – South (South Central) to talk about these changes and the impact for patients. I wanted to receive specific assurance that the healthcare of Wycombe constituents would be improved.

I have been assured that the majority of pre- and post-operative procedures will continue to be performed locally at Wycombe Hospital, giving ease of access to patients. This includes outpatient appointments, ultrasound and radiology investigations as well as follow-up appointments and investigations. The specialist surgery that needs to be performed in Oxford – such as treatment for aortic aneurysm – is taking place in a theatre with advanced facilities and expert staff to meet the latest clinical standards.

Evidence shows all specialist vascular procedures requiring an in-patient stay should be carried out at a centre where there is 24/7 consultant cover. This is an issue about patient safety.

The Vascular Society says every patient has a right to consult with a vascular surgeon close to their local hospital: consultations remain at Wycombe Hospital. Since these changes, Buckinghamshire-based consultants have been treating Buckinghamshire-based patients. The average stay of people who would have been treated at Wycombe but now in Oxford is 2 days.

Wycombe continues to be a specialist centre for two of the biggest killers – heart attack and stroke – and our hospital has seen recent investment:

You can read more about recent investment in heart and stroke services on the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust website here. They write:

Wycombe Hospital’s cardiac and stroke services are going from strength to strength in keeping with the Trust’s vision to put the hospital on the map as one of the leading centres in the country for cutting edge quality care for heart and stroke patients.

Exciting plans to develop and expand existing services are underway, whilst the cardiac and stroke teams have earned themselves national and international recognition for their innovation and commitment to patient care and development of expertise within their committed teams.

Our acute stroke service, which offers treatment and support for around 1,000 actual and suspected stroke patients every year, consolidated its position as one of the leading services in the UK when it recently retained the coveted overall ‘A’ rating the Royal College of Physician’s independent audit for the fourth consecutive time. This places it among the top 12% in England, Wales and Ireland. It remains the only NHS Trust in the Thames Valley to have ever been awarded the top ‘A’ Score.

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