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Hospital trusts deny Poole Hospital's emergency department will close if merger goes ahead
POOLE Hospital's accident and emergency unit could close under plans to merge its hospital trust with Bournemouth's, an MP has claimed.
The claim - by Christchurch and East Dorset MP Chris Chope - has been denied by hospital bosses.
Mr Choped said that setting up a single A&E unit for the two towns - probably in Bournemouth - was now the “clear preferred adoption” of hospital bosses, He said the idea was being planned “despite never having been the subject of public consultation”.
His claims come in a letter calling for the merger to be “prohibited” so the idea of reconfiguring NHS services can be discussed first.
Mr Chope said: “I don't think many people living in our area realise that the agenda is to close down one of the A&Es.
“At a time when A&E provision is very much in the headlines, if somebody's coming along and saying 'We're going to downgrade your A&E to a minor injuries unit', then all hell will break lose. That's the thing they're trying to do under cover of the merger.”
In his letter to the Competition Commission, Mr Chope said he had spoken to Tony Spotswood, chief executive of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, about which of the hospitals should keep a full A&E unit.
He claimed Mr Spotswood had told him that “preliminary studies showed that it would be more cost effective to establish such a unit at the Royal Bournemouth”.
But Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Foundation Trust said it had been required to develop a range of options and none of them involved closure of an A&E unit.
Poole MP Robert Syms called for reassurances about the future of Poole's A&E unit.
“I would want to protect the accident and emergency unit at Poole - not least because I myself have been there in the last 12 months,” said the MP, who had appendicitis last year.
“Although the two hospitals are fairly close, if you get some traffic it causes difficulties. Reassurances would need to be given about having cover in various hospital departments.
“I think it would have been better had the people wanting the merger been a bit more forthcoming about what their plans were to start off with and now things are unravelling a bit.”
Mr Chope first warned in November 2012 that A&E and other hospital departments could close, after key parts of a document arguing the benefits of a proposed merger were blanked out in the version released to the public and MPs.
Hospital Trusts Response
The response from the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is as follows:
“There is no suggestion that one of the accident and emergency departments will close.
“As part of the merger process, both trusts were required to develop a range of possible clinical scenarios, which included options for the accident and emergency departments.
"None of those options included the closure of either department. It is important to stress that any changes to the configuration of services would be subject to full public consultation and
must receive the support of commissioners and GPs before any decisions could be made.
“No matter what the outcome of the merger, there is a need in the future to provide an emergency service for our conurbation that ensures our highly skilled consultants are available 24/7 to care for patients."
THE two hospitals say their merger proposal would “bring two high-performing hospital trusts together”.
They say the plan would “ensure that we continue to provide safe, high quality services to our patients with better clinical outcomes and meet the demands facing the NHS.”
But in July, the Competition Commission said in a provisional report that a merger would result in a loss of choice for patients across a “large number of overlapping services”.
Hospital bosses said they were “bitterly disappointed”and warned that without the merger, the Poole Hospital trust was likely to go into the red next year and could be placed into administration.
The Competition Commission is considering further responses to the issueand is due to publish its final report by October 21.
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