Andrew Turner, the Island’s MP has said he is pleased that the Safe and Sustainable team are now actively working to establish accurate information about emergency transfer times from the Isle of Wight to the mainland.
The announcement was made shortly before a debate in the House of Commons about the options for reorganisation of Children’s Heart Surgery as outlined in the Safe and Sustainable consultation document. The team are also working to analyse the impact of patient flows between Oxford and Southampton hospitals in order to provide decision makers with the latest information following the suspension of children’s heart surgery at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. There had been concerns expressed that although the unit at Southampton is the second best in the country, it may lose out because it has historically carried out fewer procedures than units elsewhere.
In the debate Mr Turner criticised the suggestion that a specialist ambulance could get to the Island from Bristol or London in the standard time of three hours and the latest suggestion that transfer times for the Island should be increased to four hours. He explained how the Safe and Sustainable team had said they could ‘generate potential scenarios that could enable the ambulance to meet the standards’.
Speaking after the debate Mr Turner said : “This consultation is fundamentally flawed. It may be theoretically possible to get an ambulance from Bristol or London to St Mary’s, Newport, in four hours – however as the road element of the journey takes two hours alone an ambulance would have to arrive just as the ferry is leaving port in order meet these new longer timescales. They have completely ignored the facts that throughout the night there are long periods of time when there are long intervals between services or no service at all, and that adverse weather may affect crossing times. I am pleased they have confirmed today that they will be looking at these issues.”
He continued : “I also planned to make the point that at the same time that the NHS has suddenly decided that the Island is ‘remote’, DEFRA have decided it is pointless arguing that point to the EU, in relation to the provision of facilities to deal with fallen stock – however there was a time limit on speeches and I ran out of time. I will be submitting the text of my speech directly to the Safe and Sustainable review team today and asking them to look at these points carefully.”
Mr Turner was also a member of the delegation that delivered a petition with 232,733 signatures to Downing Street yesterday with campaigners from across the South and other MPs.
After leaving Downing Street Mr Turner said : “I want to pay tribute to Helen Lavarty who had done so much to highlight the issue locally and has ploughed through hundreds of pages of NHS documents. That is all the more impressive as her two and a half year old daughter Nancy has just undergone her third session of open-heart surgery which is why she could not come along to help deliver the peitition. Helen tells me that Nancy is doing ‘brilliantly’ and that is great news – a real testament to the excellent care provided at Southampton. I will continue to work with other MPs of all parties to ensure that the case for Southampton is properly assessed.”