Vascular services were provided from four vascular centres in the North East, James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle, Sunderland Royal Hospital and University Hospital of North Durham. A review by the Northern England Strategic Clinical Network, who provides targeted health system support to improve health outcomes and reduce variation of patient care, concluded that the North East vascular service should be re-configured to a maximum of three vascular centres that provide a full, high quality vascular service, instead of four centres.
As an independent consumer champion, Healthwatch in County Durham and Darlington were asked to facilitate the events and capture feedback, collate the responses to the patient survey and to produce an independent report detailing the findings. To assist the relevant NHS decision makers in the transition from four to three vascular centres, the following recommendations are based on the views, experiences and aspirations of patients and carers in County Durham.
The vast majority of patients told us in the survey they had travelled by car to hospital, it is unlikely this will change in the short-term. It’s important that patients have:
- Good information about travel options available to hospital
- Clear information provided about patient transport, including qualifying criteria and how to book
- Details about public transport and how to find information regarding to travel to their chosen surgery centre
- Maps for car parking and the cost that will be incurred
Patients told us in the survey that they had mainly received good pre and post-operative information and advice. However, there were a significant number of patients who had not received information about agencies available to support them in the community. To ensure patients are well informed and reassured, it’s important that:
- Patients are reassured that it is only the surgery that will transfer to the centres of excellence and that all other appointments will take place at their chosen local hospital outpatient clinics as before
- Patients are advised that wherever possible they will continue to be seen by their existing consultant/surgeon
- Patients and family receive information and can ask questions about the procedures being carried out, including the benefits or any risks
- Patients and family have things explained to them in a way they can understand
- Patients and family are offered leaflets or links to websites about the procedures being carried out
- Patients and carers receive information about support agencies available in the community, prior to being discharged
- Patients understand clearly about what to expect after discharge and any symptoms they need to be aware of, which might indicate there is a problem.