Vascular op safe say Vic bosses

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Bosses at Blackpool Vic today insisted a complex vascular procedure being undertaken at the hospital was completely safe – after a report raised concerns about the number of times the operation is being performed.

The trust behind the Vic has been named in research by health care data specialist Dr Foster as not performing enough abdominal aortic aneurysm operations to keep surgeons’ skills up.

The operation fixes a weakening in the wall of the major artery.

According to the Vascular Society, hospitals should perform a minimum of 100 operations over a three-year period to ensure an appropriate level of experience.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of those named as falling short of this target – although neither the data nor the trust itself have confirmed how many of the operations have actually been carried out by staff in the hospital.

But bosses say the procedure at The Vic is completely safe, adding that two arterial specialist centres are to be set up in Lancashire.

The trust’s chief executive, Gary Doherty, said: “We want to reassure people who come to Blackpool for this treatment the services are safe but we also recognise the clinical case for change for concentrating complex procedures in specialist centres.

“Following a Lancashire and Cumbria-wide review there is now an agreed proposal to establish two arterial centres.

“Along with the other Trusts and commissioners in Lancashire and Cumbria, we are working to agree a timetable to make these changes.”

Director of research at Dr Foster, Roger Taylor, said: “These figures come in the light of recommendations from NHS England that acute emergency services need to be concentrated in specialised centres. The number performing this operation infrequently has been falling for several years. However, it remains an issue in some parts of the country.”