HOSPITAL chiefs have come together for the first time to reveal details of the controversial shake-up of NHS services in Dorset - and why they want to get on with it ‘as quickly as possible.’

Poole Hospital chief executive Debbie Fleming and Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s Tony Spotswood have revealed within just 18 months they hope the two trusts will become just one single organisation – and there will be detailed plans of exactly how each hospital will look and run.

Without the radical changes to plug a projected £158m shortfall by 2021, Dorset would have lost more services, the health bosses said.

Already clinicians from both hospitals have been tasked with designing how services will run before detailed designs are drawn up.

The Daily Echo can reveal Royal Bournemouth Hospital will receive £85 million investment to expand the site by around 500 beds for a new A&E, trauma unit and a large new women’s health unit featuring a state-of-the-art maternity unit and special care baby unit.

Poole Hospital will lose beds but will use a £62 million cash boost to build a new urgent care centre, a day case unit and day theatre suites where they say patients will experience less cancellations due to the number of emergency patients.

Each site will also each have a community hospital featuring around 50 beds.

It is thought most services will move at the end of the construction work, which will take around three and a half years, but already the two hospitals have started to work 'more collaboratively' and ‘as a system.’

Debbie Fleming said: “It is very exciting news and fantastic that Dorset has achieved over a third of the transformation money made available in the country last year. Both sites will be getting significant investment.

“The biggest message from us is we want to get on with this work as quickly as possible. We are really pleased the uncertainty has come to an end.

“By taking the action we have done in Dorset, by grasping that nettle and agreeing we will be centralising more of our work, I think is a very positive and constructive thing to do. We don’t think anybody needs to be frightened about the future. We believe it will mean in long term fewer people will have to go outside of the county for specialist care. In fact if we hadn’t done what we have done, we’d have probably lost more services in Dorset.

“We are very keen to progress the merger. Where it is not building dependent, we would like wherever we can to introduce changes, certainly bring teams together if we are allowed to do so though the CMA and work cooperatively across the two sites sooner rather than later.”

As previously reported, two weeks ago NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) governing body unanimously agreed proposals for the Clinical Services Review, which will see Poole lose its A&E, maternity and paediatrics unit despite fears over travel times. Royal Bournemouth Hospital will become the major emergency and trauma hub for the east of the county, leaving Poole Hospital for planned care with a 24/7 urgent care centre.

Tony Spotswood said most outpatient appointments will not change – but spoke to reassure patients around travel times in emergencies.

“I want to emphasise I know many local people have anxiety about travelling to Bournemouth, particularly if they live in the Wareham and Swanage area. It’s important to remember if anyone in those areas has a heart attack at the moment, they already come to Bournemouth, so the most acutely unwell people in the county already travel to RBH for their emergency care.”

Instead centralising care will save lives, he said.

“Even if we had all the money we wanted, there are insufficient accident and emergency consultants to staff all three departments. Those services are particularly under pressure into the evenings and at weekends.

“We simply cannot continue to provide services in the same way. To bring the services across Poole and Bournemouth together means we can have the number of consultants we require to provide a service in the way we want seven days a week, evenings and weekends. There is a lot of compelling evidence if we do that there are better outcomes.

“The purpose of all of this is to strengthen our emergency services and provide patients with better outcomes and for our planned centre to be a centre of excellence which won’t be subject to some of the disruption which currently presents at both hospitals because of the number of emergency patients.

“In terms of maternity care, we already have women who live in west Hampshire travelling to Poole, which is a significant journey but they get there safely in the same way we’d expect women who are wanting to deliver and live in Purbeck to safely access Bournemouth.

“We want to reassure the public in terms of maternity services that women will get the right access to the services they need within the right time frame.”

The hospital chiefs highlighted the new model is about 'care closer to home' and that patients can expect to see more services in the community which will reduce the need to get into acute care.

However the hospital chiefs said their employees are a vital part of the changes.

Mrs Fleming said: “People do not need to be frightened about their jobs. We are all struck by the scale of the transformation and that makes us really appreciate colleagues across the board. There is such a lot of work to be done, that everyone has a role to play in it. We have some really good executives, clinicians, leaders across both organisations and we need every single one of them.

"There’s an awful lot to be done and we need all the leadership we can get.

“It’s about looking to manage large increases in demand whilst knowing the money is fairly flat so we have to make absolutely best use of the workforce we have got but we don’t think people need to be frightened.”