HEALTH chiefs say it would be ‘negligent’ if Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Poole Hospital did not integrate health services.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Echo, Tim Goodson, leader of Dorset Sustainability and Transformation Plan and chief executive of Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (DCCG) said there is no option than to go ahead with a major shake-up of services due to a workforce crisis and growing demand.

He added a merger of both hospitals so just one organisation runs one service rather than 'two similar services' for east Dorset ‘makes sense.’

The health boss has spoken frankly about how he believes integrating teams to create one planned and one major emergency hospital will save and not risk lives.

It comes as Dorset has received more than £100 million funding from NHS England in order to reconfigure the hospitals including building a dedicated children’s unit, maternity unit, major emergency department and urgent care centre at the planned site.

“This is the largest investment into the NHS in Dorset for at least 20 years and will ensure the future of both hospitals,” he said.

“We’ve been asked can’t we keep two A&E units? But at the heart of this is the concern for the future workforce and the answer is no. We just haven’t got the staff to do it.

“We are stretching the resources too thinly – not just the acute sites but across the board, community hospitals, mental health, GPs.”

He said both RBH and Poole are not meeting some of the best practice guidance on the number of consultants on site at any one point and providing one service would improve outcomes.

He explained: “There are a number of vacancies across the NHS in most areas whether that’s consultants, nurses, GPs.

“Whilst we are content both sites are safe, it would be negligent not to secure both services going forward for what is needed in five years and beyond. To do that we need consultants on site to get the best outcomes.

“We want to get to the point we have more consultants on site for more of the time and at the moment we are splitting the workforce over two sites with two A&Es, two high dependency units which is simply unsustainable.”

As previously reported, patients have raised concerns over Dorset CCG’s stated travel times for residents to get to their closest A&E in the public consultation document.

However the organisation has since asked the ambulance service and local authority to carry out a review.

The findings, which will be released in the coming days, were ‘overall positive and supportive.’

He said just one per cent of patients are ‘life-threatening emergencies’ and more than 50 per cent of patients will use Poole’s proposed urgent care centre, which will deal with cuts, minor burns and minor fractures.

For those who live in the west of the county, Dorset County Hospital will ‘start to become the natural choice,’ he said.

“We think these proposals will save lives and the ambulance service has reaffirmed that.

Mr Goodson confirmed a merger of the two trusts is back on the table ahead of the final decision on the plans which will be made on September 20.

“We have to look at providing the best and most sustainable service for the east Dorset population.

“We have plans to create single services so why not have one organisation running them, rather than two decision making, two boards, two funding streams.

“There are huge benefits to merging. We don’t want two organisations running the same one service so I think it makes a lot of sense.”