• First formal consultation begins on proposals put forward in an STP
  • Plans in Dorset follow a long running clinical services review
  • Proposals include substantial changes to acute and community services

The first formal consultation has begun on major service changes proposals put forward in a sustainability and transformation plan.

Dorset began a three month public consultation yesterday on changes which formed a major part of its STP, and were developed by an earlier clinical services review. Following a long process, Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group received approval from NHS England to begin its consultation late last month.

Royal Bournemouth Hospital

Royal Bournemouth Hospital

Royal Bournemouth Hospital could become a ‘major emergency hospital’

A small number of other areas of the country, including Devon and Cumbria, are also consulting on service changes but these began before the publication of their STPs.

The consultation says there will be substantial changes to preventative and community based services. These include removing beds from several community hospitals, and the potential closure altogether of a small number of community hospital sites.

The consultation says “community hubs” will be developed, which will “provide a joint health and social care team approach to caring for patients, particularly the elderly and frail”; “allow you to have outpatient appointments outside of acute hospitals”; with “an extended multidisciplinary team with health and care staff working together from a single central location”.

It says: “With public support to access services in these new ways, it will help us to meet the 25 per cent reduction in unplanned medical admissions and the 20 per cent reduction in unplanned surgical admissions that is required by our proposals for improving acute hospital care.”

Dorset’s proposed changes to acute services include:

  • Royal Bournemouth Hospital, run by the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust, becoming a “major emergency hospital”. The accident and emergency unit at Poole Hospital, run by Poole Hospital FT, would be replaced by an urgent care centre.
  • Obstetric led maternity and inpatient paediatrics would also be removed from Poole, and provided for this part of the county at Royal Bournemouth.
  • Poole Hospital would become “a hospital for major planned care… away from the disruption that urgent and emergency care can create”.
  • Dorset County Hospital, part of Dorset County Hospital FT, would retain its A&E, though some major emergencies would be transferred to Bournemouth. There will also potentially be networking or downgrading of maternity and children’s services at Dorset County Hospital.

The consultation document says capital investment of £147m-£189m will be required for the acute hospital changes, while the capital cost of up to £20m for changes in the community will be found locally. The consultation will run until 28 February.

Dorset CCG chair Forbes Watson said in a statement: “These proposals are the outcome of collective work from local clinicians who are experts in their area of work.

“At the start of the review they were tasked with designing Dorset’s future healthcare so it could continue to deliver the high standard of care local people are used to receiving both now and in the future.”