READING a draft of the recent letter sent by Bournemouth council’s health scrutiny committee to the secretary of state, describing claims by those objecting to plans in the Dorset CCG Clinical Services Review (CSR) as “emotive and sensational”, it’s quite apparent that the committee fails to understand exactly why so many Dorset residents are objecting to these proposals.

The fact that the committee suggests that Bournemouth will not be “gaining” from the proposals and that it is “quite possible that Bournemouth residents will actually have to do the greater amount of travelling” if Poole Hospital becomes the major planned hospital shows that they are totally missing the point. Many objectors’ concerns are not about travelling further for planned procedures or for relatively minor injuries, they are about situations where very sick or injured patients need immediate definitive hospital care.

As one of the “objectors” here are some facts:

Eighty per cent of sick or injured patients currently presenting at Poole A&E will still be eligible to so if, under the CSR proposals, A&E were to downgrade to an Urgent Care Centre (UCC). It is the remaining 20 per cent that I am concerned about. Poole Hospital’s operational plan for 2017-2019 states 70,969 expected attendances at A&E for 2017/18 so that’s over 14,000 patients just in that period alone who would not be eligible for care at Poole if A&E were to be downgraded. We also have no idea how many non-eligible patients would still “self-present” at Poole.

A study that has been carried out by the ambulance service, analysed travelling distances/times for emergency ambulance patients over a four-month period. The study report states quite clearly that no model can predict the future. We do know from the study, however, that over the four months analysed, in the “what if..” scenario, 650 ambulance patients would have had a shorter journey to hospital but 3,067 would have had to travel further.

There is no doubt that a seriously ill or injured patient should be taken to the appropriate hospital and this may not be the nearest hospital. However, it is also important to remember that time can also be vital. We are very fortunate in Dorset that SWAST ambulances are crewed by highly skilled clinicians. Despite these skills, there will always be occasions where delay in reaching definitive care in hospital could result not necessarily in death, but in a poorer prognosis.

When those supporting and singing the benefits of the proposed CSR plans for emergency patients are attempting to “reassure”, residents, they should remember that they cannot ”reassure “ , only “guess” as they don't really know. The evidence and statistics they really need to be able to do so don’t exist

MALCOLM SIMPSON, Chalbury Close, Poole