Although the 2015 review stated that the HPB unit did not reach the population requirements, thousands of lives are saved because of the outstanding service that the team at UHCW have developed. The most obvious problem that my constituents in Coventry South, and people in east Warwickshire, will be faced with is geographical, as the hon. Member for Nuneaton said. Many of them will have to travel about 16 miles for treatment, which will be very costly. They will have to take trains, and we all know the problems associated with that. The time it will take patients who currently use the service to travel to Birmingham is unfair. Patient access will no doubt be reduced, as the journey time, as my colleagues from Coventry will be well aware, is about an hour by car and over 80 minutes by public transport. The journey time for patients who currently use the service at UHCW and live outside Coventry, in rural areas out of the reach of public transport, will be considerably longer and the journey will be considerably more expensive. NHS England will directly increase the stress and physical discomfort that patients and family members will have to endure. In addition, once patients have made the hour-long, or hours-long, journey to UHB, there will be a good chance that their treatment will be cancelled or delayed.
University Hospital Birmingham specialises in liver transplants, and it has a success rate that the whole of the west midlands is immensely proud of. Understandably, those operations take priority because of the speed with which they need to take place. Patients at the hospital who have other, slightly less urgent, conditions find that their operations are routinely cancelled in place of a liver transplant. Moving pancreatic services to Birmingham will dramatically increase the number of patients at risk of having their vital operation cancelled. Any patient who suffers from pancreatic cancer, or people who have a family member who has died from this terrible disease, will know that the speed of detection and the speed of treatment are absolutely vital to survival. It is extremely hard to detect, and, as a result, doctors need to act quickly after a patient has been diagnosed. Any delay to operations decrease the chances of survival even further.
The closure of the HPB unit at UHCW also poses a risk to the overall status of the hospital. By closing a key unit, the hospital is at risk of losing its specialist status, and, as a result, being downgraded to a district hospital. That will have a domino effect on the rest of the hospital.