MINISTER Matt Hancock's visit to Bournemouth hospital last week (Daily Echo, July 6), telling us merger plans are "incredibly exciting", is an enormous distraction from the truth.

What we have with the closure of Poole A&E, and closure of Poole maternity, and closure or part closure of five community hospitals in Dorset, is a grand centralisation plan.

And this in the whole picture a huge cost cutting exercise. The smoke and mirrors one-off £149million capital investment in RBH is by way of massive county-wide cuts saving Dorset NHS £149m, every year into the future.

We all lose out massively, most critically on travel times to RBH situated as it is on the eastern edge of the county. Clinical analysis from many sources show increased ambulance travel times means increased risk to survival. And we all need to keep in mind the gridlock on A338 and Castle Lane, all of which will impact on ambulance times.

But all is not lost. Defend Dorset NHS has put in huge time with public crowd funding to fight this every inch of the way. Currently there is to be a Judicial hearing appeal in London law courts on July 24. The judge has said most recently he is concerned with regard to the "gap" between promises and actual delivery.

And also note the minister himself has ordered a review of Dorset plans by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. Again, as with the judicial hearing appeal, the issue is emergency travel times. Longer distances, higher risks of loss of life and long-term disability. The terrible price we pay for a super-centralised A&E and maternity, to be accessed from the most traffic-saturated roads in the county.

RON GOODMAN, Newfoundland Drive, Poole