It now seems that the transfer of accident and emergency services to Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) is a done deal. Under a radical shake-up of health services across Dorset, there are proposals to designate one hospital as the emergency hub and and the other for planned care. We are supposed to be in a pre-consultation phase, but the Echo is reporting today that Poole Hospital Chief Executive, Debbie Fleming, has said to staff that the hospital management team must respect the majority view of other health service partners in the area that RBH is most suitable location for A&E.
Many of us are worried about the impact on Poole residents but the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is looking at provision a pan-Dorset level. The health service is facing many challenges - skilled staff shortages, an ageing population, and a need to shift more work to community not hospital settings. It's all about money at the end of the day. It is projected to be £40 million cheaper to locate A&E at Bournemouth rather than Poole.
It is suggested that 'walk-in' A&E would continue in Poole, with major work done at RBH. Maternity would be at RBH, the current midwife led unit there sees relatively few births, and too many have to get transferred in a rush. Poole would get £60M spent on refurbishment as the planned care hospital. More treatment is to be done in GP surgeries and local hubs. Some community hospitals including Alderney are also going to close (although a decision regarding mental health services run from Alderney has not yet been made).
We recognise that the Poole Hospital team have found it difficult to gain support for the alternative proposal which would locate A&E in Poole. However, assuming the Echo has reported her comments correctly, we are disappointed that Ms Fleming appears to have fallen in line with the CCG's proposal before the £40 million initial estimate of the difference in cost between the two proposals has been firmed up. We are concerned that executives at Bournemouth Hospital may be empire building and we need the Poole Hospital management team to stand up for the interests of Poole's residents and hospital staff.
Consultation on the proposed option will take place in the Autumn.