HEALTH chiefs behind the major shake-up of hospital services in Dorset have been advised to build a “more constructive relationship” with groups opposed to the proposals.

As reported, health secretary Matt Hancock gave the green light to NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) plan to deliver significant changes to the way services are run at Bournemouth and Poole hospital.

Under the transformation, which will take six years to come into full effect, Royal Bournemouth Hospital will be the major emergency care site, while Poole Hospital will act as a planned care facility.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) backed the vision set out by Dorset CCG, however, their report highlighted a need for Dorset CCG to engage with all interested parties.

IRP chairman Lord Ribeiro said there was a chance to add “new vigour” with the implementation of the proposals.

“That phase should involve greater co-production between interested parties than has hitherto been evident, not least in identifying the best ways of explaining to local people the rationale behind the changes and how they can influence the development of services,” said Lord Ribeiro.

“Those interested parties should include all arms of the NHS, local government for the area in its new guise as well as local Healthwatch and public and patient groups.

“In this regard, the panel was struck, despite their evident interest, by the apparent lack of involvement to date of the Defend Dorset NHS group in the development of proposals. Whatever the reasons behind this, it is to be hoped that a more constructive relationship can be built going forward.”

Louise Bate, manager of Healthwatch Dorset, the independent health and care champion, said: “It’s crucial that local people are involved in the planning and design of future health services. People across Dorset have raised concerns about the proposed changes to hospital and community services.

“To work though the issues raised, Dorset CCG need to be clear about how they are now going to involve local people and work with them to develop these plans.”

Defend Dorset NHS has consistently campaigned against the closure of Poole Hospital’s A&E.

Hospital bosses have stressed that the service changes, including the closure of the A&E at Poole, will take years to implement, while many patients who currently walk into the unit for treatment will still be treated at the Longfleet Road site in the future through the urgent treatment centre.

At present, Poole Hospital's A&E continues to operate and provide treatment for patients.

A Dorset CCG spokesman said: “We are very keen to continue working closely together with the public and all interested parties, and very much welcome this opportunity.

"We look forward to continuing to engage constructively with all parties in progressing these clinically-led plans to transform hospital services for the people of Dorset – which will bring considerable benefits to patients – to the next stage.”