HOSPITAL chiefs were last night grilled over the controversial consultation document concerning ward closures at Christchurch Hospital.

Representatives from the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital Trust including hospital chief executive Tony Spotswood, clinical director Dr Neil Hopkinson and Richard Renaut, director of service development, were lambasted by Christchurch councillors and members of the public over the way in which the consultation had been carried out.

The two-hour scrutiny committee meeting took place at the Civic Offices in Christchurch and heard from members of the public as well as parish councillors, hospital staff and local GPs.

Published in September, the consultation document, entitled Protecting our Future, contains details on certain services due to be transferred from Christchurch Hospital to Bournemouth.

But with some of the changes already having taken place, members of the public and elected members branded the document more a “statement of intent”.

And the angry mood was heightened further when some local organisations, including the Macmillan Trust at Christchurch Hospital, told the meeting they had not known about the document until weeks or even days ago.

The proposed changes mean that just the Macmillan Unit, a reduced dermatology ward, an orthopaedic rehab ward and the outpatients and day hospital ward will remain open come April 2010.

Cllr Nick Geary called the consultation a “sham” with others calling into question the future of the entire hospital.

But the chief executive of the hospitals trust, Tony Spotswood said: “There is no intention to close Christchurch Hospital.

“But over the next 18 months there will be future consultation concerning Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

“We have got some sense of how people feel and we will take that away with us.”