An announcement about wider plans for future health and care services following a clinical services review has raised serious concerns among local people.
The Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has proposed changes to the organisation of Dorset’s acute hospitals.
They say the preferred way forward is that the Royal Bournemouth Hospital should become the major emergency hospital in the east of the county, with a single A&E department for the area.
Poole Hospital would become the major planned care hospital with a 24-hour urgent care centre.
Meanwhile in the west of the county, Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester would remain a district general hospital and, taking into account the rural nature of much of West Dorset, retain its A & E Department.
However it would form part of a Dorset-wide set of clinical services with Bournemouth and Poole.
Following the announcement, two on line petitions have gathered over 50,000 signatures between them and are being vigorously shared on social media.
One, set up by a Poole father of three, Sean Perrin, has received over 9,000 signatures in three days. His main concern is that if the major emergency hospital is in Bournemouth, it will take longer for Poole and Purbeck residents to reach A&E, which could mean the difference between life and death. “The road networks between Poole and Bournemouth are dismal,” said Sean. “Every day we’re hearing about congestion. Logistically it doesn’t make sense to have the main A&E for Poole in Bournemouth, not unless there is the infrastructure to support it.
“I am preparing for much bigger action and intend to get petitions out into the community as well as on line,” he added.
Robert Talbot, Medical Director, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We’re clear about the need for change in Dorset’s health system and have made a full and active contribution to the clinical services review…
“…While disappointed with the clinical commissioning group’s recommendation, and whatever the final outcome, we are confident of a bright and positive future, and will work hard to preserve and build on the high standards and unique philosophy of care that we provide day in, day out to our patients and their families.”
A spokesperson from NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group said, “While this is the recommended option being given to the CCG Governing Body, it remains subject to public consultation and a final decision next year.
“If approved, Poole Hospital A&E will become an Urgent Care Centre. It will continue to treat the majority of cases that it currently sees with the more severe cases being conveyed to or treated at Bournemouth Hospital.
“The governing body will also receive and note future plans for integrated community services, which will be the subject of future development and engagement during June.”
“There seems to be a bigger picture here,” said Sean. “I am worried that this is the start of a scaling down process and eventually Poole Hospital will be closed.”
A series of public engagement events will take place during June where people can find out more about the options and give their views. Visit www.dorsetsvision.nhs.uk for more details.
Petitions can be found at www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/129792 and https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-poole-hospital-a-e