A HOSPITAL consultant has called on the Daily Echo to put questions to NHS bosses behind plans to transform the county’s health services.

Today, Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) governors are due to confirm the Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) as the preferred site for redevelopment as a major emergency hub - taking nearly all the county’s ‘blue light’ emergency patients - as part of the Clinical Services Review.

If approved next year, following a public consultation this autumn, the recommendation would see Poole Hospital become a major planned care site dealing with elective surgery, although it would still retain its A&E department for ‘walk-up’ patients.

The plans would also see maternity and paediatric services transferred from Poole to Bournemouth and orthopaedic services transferred the other way.

The Echo’s anonymous correspondent expressed concern both with the choice of Bournemouth for the major emergency site and with how the review has been conducted thus far.

The letter said: “I am a hospital correspondent who has been involved in the Clinical Services Review since it began in 2014, and want to highlight to you that its recommendation reaches far wider than the closure of Poole A&E.”

“The CCG’s recommendation is that no emergencies will be taken to Poole and that all ambulance transfers will go to RBH.

“This includes all the children, maternity, ITU (intensive care), surgery and trauma - Poole will have a minor injuries unit similar to Wimborne and Swanage and be the site for all planned elective surgery.”

The consultant said all the clinicians in the CCG are GPs, not consultants, and that while the latter - the most experienced doctors - have been involved in the review process they were “not allowed to discuss” which site they preferred to become either of the major treatment centres.

The letter continued: “The Care Quality Commission quality report for Poole Hospital has still not been published so quality of care cannot have been considered.

“The CCG have assumed all the doctors, nurses and Allied Healthcare workers will be happy to travel to the new redeveloped sites - no staff surveys have been requested on either site.

“Given that there are no children nurses, very few midwives and no trauma trained nurses at RBH it is possible that the new emergency site there won’t have enough specially-trained nurses to staff the emergency department or the wards.

“RBH has no experience of managing trauma, paediatric, maternity, neonatal and a number of other specialities as they only receive adult medical and surgical emergencies. Poole has very little experience in managing planned elective operating for orthopaedics.

“Poole only needs to have the cardiology catheter labs to have all the emergency services provided for the east of Dorset as it already has all the other services (except eye emergencies). In comparison, Poole will need to relocate nine services to RBH with huge disruption.

“Access time to each site has been reviewed but only average times/distances calculated which hugely disadvantages those people living in the west.

“There has been almost no review of the impact on the ambulance services for taking all patients who need emergency care by ambulance to the far east of Dorset.

“There has been little mention of cancer services but the CCG recommendation will also cause the fragmentation of this service which currently provides Dorset with excellent access and care.”

The letter concluded: “I feel it is my duty as a hospital consultant to make you aware of the significant consequences of the CCG’s recommendation because it goes far beyond the closure of an A&E department and I don’t believe this has been made clear to the public.

“I feel if this goes ahead it places the patients of Dorset at a high risk of having worse emergency, elective and cancer care than they currently receive.”

The Daily Echo asked NHS Dorset CCG to respond to the points made in the letter.

A spokesperson said they didn’t agree with our correspondent’s information about the number of services which would be relocated under the current recommendation.

On the review process, the spokesperson said: “Since the launch of the Clinical Services Review in October 2014 more than 600 clinicians from across Dorset have taken part in Clinical Working Groups to develop the proposals that will go to national assurance and – if approved - public consultation.

“This group has included GPs, medical directors of all three acute hospitals, hospital consultants and other expert clinical members. We have also involved patient and key stakeholder groups, partner organisations and members of the public in our discussions.”

On journey times to Bournemouth and Poole hospitals, he said: “In developing the proposals a range of criteria were considered which included travel times by blue light ambulance, public transport and private car to each of the hospitals.

“The options contained within the proposal going to the governing body on Wednesday were tested against strict patient accessibility criteria and the evaluation ensured they were the best for patients accessing services from all parts of Dorset.

“Following the governing body on Wednesday the proposal will be independently scrutinised as part of the national assurance process led by NHS England. 

“If approved, it will form part of the wider public consultation which is planned for later this year.”

On the alleged ‘fragmentation’ of cancer services, he said: “Under proposals outlined as part of the Clinical Services Review, cancer services will be networked to ensure an equitable and consistent approach for people living in all parts of Dorset.”

Visit www.dorsetsvision.nhs.uk for more information on the review. 
Poole Hospital has also published information about the review on its website.