We would like to take this opportunity to address some inaccuracies that are circulating in an open letter to NHS Dorset CCG from Mr. Jeff Williams recently published on the Dorset Eye website. Chief Executive Tim Goodson has responded to Mr. Williams directly and this response can be read in full online.
Dear Mr Williams,
I appreciate that you are clearly concerned about the changes but I believe a number of your concerns have been based on misinformation that is being pushed around in the media at present. I hope that the following information will help to reassure you. If you would like to talk to someone from the CCG or Poole Hospital face-to-face to discuss this further, I would be very happy to arrange this for you.
You make many points and I will address as many as I can.
Firstly, I would like to point out that the plans to improve access to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital via a link road predate our Clinical Services Review (CSR) decisions and improved access to the area would be required regardless of whether we had carried out the CSR or not.
I’m sure you will be aware that the CSR was carried out over a period of three years before the CCG’s Governing Body – predominantly made up of medical doctors – took their considered decisions. The CSR was clinically-led, involving hundreds of doctors and health professional from all NHS organisations across Dorset. This was to ensure that the plans were evidence based and in the best interests of patients for now and the future.
We carried out considerable public engagement, a formal consultation and worked closely with elected representatives to ensure that local views were heard.
Despite this, there seems to be some misunderstanding about what the plans will mean in practice.
For example, it is somewhat misleading to say that Poole Hospital’s A and E is closing. It is much more accurate to say that Poole Hospital’s A and E is changing. There will be a 24/7 urgent treatment centre on the site, we are currently planning for this centre to have the capacity to see approximately 53,000 patients per year. That is around 80% of the current Poole A and E capacity. This number may even increase as we look at a different mix of procedures (operations and other treatment) being undertaken in the centre as part of new ways of providing care. Therefore the majority of people who go to Poole Hospital now will keep going to Poole Hospital in the future.
By consolidating specialist A and E consultants at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, we will be able to provide on-site consultant-led care 24/7 which we cannot provide currently at any of our A and E facilities in Dorset. This will benefit 33,000 people who currently arrive at Poole and Bournemouth’s A and E departments when there is no on site A and E consultant. We will also significantly reduce the number of patients who have to be transferred from one hospital to the other because they will go directly to the specialist emergency hospital.
Poole Hospital will remain a very busy and vibrant major hospital treating patients for a range of planned care. It is important to note that most people will require more planned care in their lives than emergency treatment and Poole Hospital is well served by bus and train links to support such pre-arranged planned appointments for procedures.
In regards to your concerns over the proposals adding to congestion, I would like to point out that we estimate the number of procedures that will move from one hospital to the other hospital will be of an equal number, that is, 42,000 each year. So the number of people travelling to either hospital will be broadly the same as it is now. It’s just that people will be going in the opposite direction compared to their current trip, so it effectively cancels itself out and therefore does not add to the current congestion. In terms of the numbers of procedures swapping sites over the entire year, if each one represented a single car journey this would be is similar in volume to that going round a busy roundabout in Poole/Bournemouth every single day – about 30,000 to 50,000. Which in itself is very small compared to the influx of people driving into the conurbation each day. Therefore the impact on congestion by our proposals even if we take the entire years’ worth, is negligible compared to just the current daily traffic volume.
In relation to your comments on finances, I do not recognise any of your figures, be it savings of £180m or total budget £800m and certainly not the netting of the two off to arrive at £620m. The assumption that the savings are in fact cuts to the total budget is completely wrong. I can assure you that we are not cutting the total spend in Dorset on health services. Any savings that we can make are just a subset of an overall increase in total spending on the NHS in Dorset. This has always been the case as the NHS budget in Dorset has increased each year and based on the latest Chancellors budget will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
It is certainly not accurate to state that we no longer have a National Health Service in this country. Nationally, the NHS deals with 1 million patients every 36 hours and care remains free at the point of delivery. To suggest otherwise would be a great disservice to the 1.2 million dedicated staff who work for the NHS as well as the millions of people who benefit from the full range of services from primary care through to highly specialised, life-saving surgery.
I hope that the above has helped your understanding of some of the issues and please do contact me if you would like me to arrange for you to talk to someone about this further.