• High Court judge dismisses judicial review over acute reconfiguration in Dorset
  • Bournemouth and Poole hospital trusts to merge under proposals
  • CCG chief says judicial review caused “considerable cost” to the NHS

Plans to reconfigure acute services and merge two NHS trusts have been boosted after a judicial review was dismissed by a High Court judge.

Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust and Poole FT will work towards creating a major emergency hospital and major elective centre – as well as a formal merger – after proceedings against Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group were thrown out by the judge.

The judicial review was brought by a member of the public named Anna Hinsull, who argued at the hearing in July that the CCG’s consultation over its clinical services review was flawed.

It caused delays to the CCG’s plans to commission a major emergency hospital and major elective hospital. 

Under the plans, Bournemouth will host the emergency hospital while Poole’s emergency department will be downgraded to an urgent care centre and the hospital will become an elective centre.

The organisations say merging will simplify the implementation and ensure the new body is financially sustainable.

A timeline for the merger has not yet been confirmed, but Tony Spotswood, CEO of RBCH told HSJ the two trusts have asked the centre for permission to appoint a joint interim chair and chief executive. 

It is thought this “clear leadership model” will make it easier to deliver the “complex change programme”, Mr Spotswood said.

The area has secured £147m in capital funding to deliver the transformation. The trusts will send their outline business case for approval in March next year, before the full business case is submitted in the following autumn. 

Those business cases need to be approved by NHS Improvement, the DHSC and the Treasury, in order to unlock the £147m. 

Construction will take up to three and a half years, bringing the estimated completion date to 2023. 

Tim Goodson, chief officer of Dorset CCG, said he hoped the court’s decision would reassure local residents that the CCG had “acted properly and in the interests of healthcare services in Dorset”.

He said the judicial review was a “right and proper process”, but added it had involved “considerable cost to the publicly-funded NHS”.

“The High Court decision will now allow the planned improvements to health and care services in Dorset to be implemented without unnecessary delay or additional legal costs,” he said.

Competition authorities blocked the hospitals’ merger in 2013.

  • Article updated at 4.48pm on September 6 to add further details