You have reached the website of the Vascular Services Research Programme.  This website provides information about a programme of research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) entitled The Design, Development, Commissioning and Evaluation of Patient Focused Vascular Services.  The research is a five year programme that will be completed in mid 2018.  Further details of the NIHR can be found on their website. http://www.nihr.ac.uk/


What are vascular services?

Vascular services deal with diseases of the circulation, other than within the brain or the heart.  This includes conditions where there is poor circulation to the legs that may cause pain when walking.  In more severe cases it may lead to ulceration or the need for amputation.  Vascular services also deal with abdominal aortic aneurysm, a stretched area in the main artery in the abdomen that can lead to bleeding if left untreated and with disease in the arteries of the neck that may lead to strokes.  They provide support to many other services including services for people with diabetes, major trauma and other conditions where there is a risk of damage to arteries and veins.  In recent years vascular services have become increasingly specialised.  Vascular surgery has become a separate specialty from general surgery and there has been an increasing trend to specialisation within radiological and medical services for vascular disease.


Why is the research necessary?

The increasing specialisation and advances in technology allow more advanced complex treatments to be carried out, but require specialist staff and equipment.  This, along with the high proportion of emergency cases dealt with by vascular services, have meant that it is no longer viable to provide a full range of services at all times in every hospital.  There is mounting evidence that better results are achieved by concentrating services in a smaller number of units with sufficient man-power and workload to provide full round the clock cover and experience in a range of specialist services.  However there are a number of trade-offs that need to be made between the advantages of concentrating services in one place, access and availability of specialist services to the entire population and preferences relating to various aspects of service provision, such as location, accessibility and continuity of care.  With the rapid development and changing services it is also necessary to have a way of consistently evaluating services to ensure they are of high quality.


What will the research study?

The research is divided into several workstreams that will look at various aspects of the ways in which services are arranged and evaluated.


Workstream 1 will use existing NHS data to look at the relationship between the way services are organised and outcomes.  It will provide data that will help to inform the likely effects of any re-organisation of services.

Workstream 2 will carry out a thorough evaluation of the various outcome measures that are already available to vascular services in order to assess the quality of the service and outcomes.  Where necessary it will develop new methods of evaluating outcome that can be used to assist clinicians and patients in managing their condition and can also be used to evaluate the overall quality of services that are being provided.

Workstream 3 is focusing on evaluating the strength of patients preferences for various aspects of service that are likely to be affected by re-organisation, including both clinical aspects of the service and non-clinical aspects of the organisation, such as travelling distances and locality.

Workstream 4 will bring together the evidence from the other workstreams in creating computer models of the ways in which patients with vascular disease are treated that will allow a prediction of the effects of re-organising services on workload, outcomes and the use of resources.


Where can I find out more?

Please follow the links in the menus above to find out more about getting involved with the research, the different workstreams, our research team and for links to other information about the research programme and the conditions treated by vascular services.