LAST Thursday the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group again tried to justify its planned cuts to our local health services. Dorset NHS is set to lose £220million annually by next year 2020, and is trying to impress us by news of a one-off capital grant of £147m, which cannot close that continuing deficit.

Poole Hospital will not only lose its A&E, maternity and neonatal units, it will also lose two-thirds of its acute beds (down to 247 from the present 654). Thus, even its award-winning oncology department will have no beds, meaning that seriously-ill patents undergoing cancer treatments may need to be transferred to Bournemouth Hospital overnight, and then transferred back.

CEO Debbie Fleming hopes that fewer hospital beds will be needed in future, because she thinks that more patients will be treated closer to home. But this theory will not fly. GP services are already struggling to find enough staff, and some practices have closed. Meanwhile the CCG itself plans to close half Dorset's community hospitals, so their beds and their treatments will no longer be available. Local government cuts meanwhile are leading to rationing of community care services, with shortages of care staff mounting.

The CCG and an A&E consultant again tried to make the case for centralising A&E services at Bournemouth Hospital, quoting the need for patient transfers from Poole if they need cardiac stents that only Bournemouth can provide. However, that hospital is reached mainly via the busy Wessex Way, and it's on only two bus routes, with services mostly unavailable on Sundays. In any case, Bournemouth Hospital is on the Eastern edge of the county, so unless you live in the New Forest it's not your nearest A&E, and you could just as well get to Southampton. Whereas of course Poole Hospital is in the centre of town, well-served by trains and many buses.

Overall, it was a depressing evening for patients, with further news of the cuts hardly lightened by a thoughtful presentation of improvements in cancer treatments. We were told that where one in three of us have been vulnerable to cancer in our lifetime, in future the odds will shorten to just one in two!

SARAH EARLY, Salisbury Road, Swanage