SOUTHEND Hospital could have its own a regional centre for treating hardened arteries and life-threatening bleeding within months.
The hospital trust is pressing on with plans to set up a £2million vascular centre – despite doubts about a plan for a national network of similar centres.
The 24-hour centre will allow more operations to prevent blood clots forming and patients suffering strokes and will serve patients from right across south Essex.
The centre will be within the hospital’s main operating theatre complex and space has already been cleared for it.
Chief executive Jacqueline Totterdell said: “We are now looking at buying state-of-the-art equipment to go in the theatre.
“With this, we will be able to carry out complex vascular lifesaving operations, as well as removing clots which can restrict blood flow to the brain and cause strokes. The vascular and stroke departments are very much interlinked.”
At present, such surgery is carried out in whichever operating theatre happens to be available and only a very limited number of patients can be treated.
Mrs Totterdell added: “We have found the space and have the budget in place. This will be opened over the next six to eight months.”
She said the hospital was the ideal location for a centre of excellence because of medics’ experience and expertise in treating vascular patients.
It will concentrate on treating the major arteries either side of the neck, which supply blood to the brain, aneurysms, leg by-pass surgery, limb salvage, angiograms and angioplasty to widen a narrowed or diseased blood vessels.
PROJECT TO BE FUNDED FROM UNSPENT BUDGET
Southend Hospital will fund its £2million vascular centre from cash it set aside last year for other projects, but never spent.
The trust board has agreed to forge ahead despite doubts about earlier plans for a national network of centres, of which Southend’s would have formed a part.
NHS England is now reconsidering proposals for 50 vascular centres across the country, which originally would have included at least two in Essex.
Public consultations about the plans never materialised because of Government NHS changes, leaving them in limbo.
However, Southend Hospital has decided to forge ahead with its own centre using £2million from its 2013/14 unspent capital budget to fund building work and buy equipment.
Chief executive Jacqueline Totterdell said: “While decisions about the wider service are still unclear, the board has given the green light to push ahead here, to ensure our population has access to a state-ofthe- art theatre, alongside our highly-skilled surgical teams, as soon as possible.”
A review by the Vascular Society had identified Southend’s team as being ideally suited to run such a centre, she added.
NHS England’s Ruth Derrett said the future of the national vascular centre programme would now be considered in late May.
It is not yet clear if the public will be consulted about it.