Your round up of the day’s biggest stories and debate

Merger on hold

Plans to split two hospitals into emergency and elective care centres as part of a £147m reconfiguration are being held up by a judicial review, which could delay a long awaited trust merger.

Local campaigners are challenging Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s decision to commission emergency services from Royal Bournemouth Hospital and elective services from Poole Hospital.

The sites currently provide both services, but the CCG’s plan will see Poole’s accident and emergency department downgraded to an urgent care centre. Most of Bournemouth’s elective work will be transferred to Poole. The proposal followed a clinical services review launched in 2014.

However, the granting of the judicial review brought by the campaign group Defend Dorset NHS means the trusts must pause the estates design work.

The providers do not want to spend money on the design prior to the judicial review being resolved. It will be heard on 17-18 July.

Campaigners are challenging a reduction in bed numbers at Poole and increased travel times for patients requiring emergency services, as well as the CCG’s decision making process.

The uncertainty created by the judicial review may also delay the proposed merger between Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust and Poole Hospital FT.

Neither NHS Improvement nor the Competition and Markets Authority would consider the merger until the judicial review is resolved because it “introduces such a high degree of uncertainty as to whether the benefits we have articulated would be realised”, Tony Spotswood, chief executive of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch, said.

CQC launches investigation

The Care Quality Commission has started an investigation into how mental health patients are protected from sexual abuse, after it identified 900 incidents on wards across the NHS in just three months.

The action comes after the CQC found a trust breaching guidance on eliminating mixed sex accommodation.

The regulator has written to every mental health trust nursing director about improving sexual safety on mental health wards.

In the letter, seen by HSJ, deputy chief inspector of hospitals Paul Lelliott said the CQC was working with NHS Improvement to review how specialist mental health trusts reported patient safety incidents of a sexual nature.

Analysis of nearly 60,000 reports submitted to the National Reporting and Learning System over a three month period found more than 900 sexual incidents on mental health wards.

The CQC will publish a briefing later this year outlining the review’s findings and making recommendations.