Dorset NHS plan: Health secretary orders review

Protesters outside Poole council offices
Image caption Several protests have been held opposing the clinical services review

Plans to restructure NHS services in Dorset are to be investigated by a government-appointed panel.

Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has begun a shake-up, including shutting Poole's A&E department.

In 2018, the county council sent the plans to health secretary Matt Hancock over concerns about patient travel times and community hospitals.

It said the minister had asked for the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) to give "initial advice" on the plans.

The restructure aims to avoid a projected funding shortfall, estimated to be at least £158m a year by 2021.

Under the CCG Clinical Services Review, Poole's A&E, maternity and paediatric services will be lost to Bournemouth, which will become the area's main emergency hospital.

Poole is set to become a centre for planned treatment and operations.

Beds closed

Changes to mental health acute care include the closure and relocation of beds at Weymouth's Linden unit and the creation of extra inpatient beds at St Ann's Hospital in Poole and Forston Clinic near Dorchester.

Beds at Portland Hospital have already been closed.

The IRP is a national body that reviews proposals for major changes to health services where there are concerns about the safety and/or value of those changes.

Dorset Council said the referral focussed on "the capacity of ambulance and community services and their abilities to cope with demand arising from those changes".

It said it hoped the investigation would "provide some reassurance to residents".

Dorset CCG said it "welcomed the opportunity for further independent scrutiny of the changes to healthcare services in Dorset".

A Court of Appeal hearing, supported by campaign group Defend Dorset NHS, is due to be heard on 24 July.

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