Dorset health providers hold Swanage event about NHS changes

An information event in Swanage is being organised by all the NHS trusts in Dorset, ahead of the closure of Poole Hospital’s accident and emergency department and the redevelopment of the major hospitals in Bournemouth, Dorchester and Poole.

The Dorset health information event, open to everyone, is between 10 am and 4 pm on Thursday 29th June 2023 at The Mowlem on Shore Road. This comes as the NHS approaches its 75th anniversary since it was founded.

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Construction work underway at Royal Bournemouth Hospital
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Building work is well underway for the new BEACH centre at Royal Bournemouth Hospital

Residents urged to come along and ask questions

The Mowlem drop-in is being organised by Our Dorset, an umbrella group of all the local NHS trusts.

Representatives from University Hospitals Dorset, which runs Royal Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Hospitals, Dorset County Hospital (DCH), and Dorset Healthcare which runs Swanage Hospital will be attending.

Residents are being urged to come along and ask questions about the local reorganisation of health care. This includes:

  • New buildings at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital dubbed the BEACH, which includes a new maternity unit as well as children’s health and critical care
  • Poole Hospital’s new operating theatres
  • Dorset County Hospial’s new emergency department and critical care unit, as well as a new discharge lounge
  • New outpatient assessment centre at South Walks House in Dorchester
  • Outpatient assessment centres and how waiting lists in Dorset are being tackled
  • The work of the Swanage patient participation group
Dr Isabel Smith
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University Hospitals Dorset’s medical director for strategy and transformation, Dr Isabel Smith

“Listen to the voices of people who use our services”

University Hospitals Dorset’s medical director for strategy and transformation, Isabel Smith said:

“We are reorganising how we deliver health services in Dorset.

“This gives the right expertise available for emergency care, around the clock, on one site whilst ring-fencing beds and capability on another site for planned operations to ensure procedures go ahead throughout the year.

“These information events are vitally important so we can describe these changes and listen to the voices of people who use our services to find out what really matters to them.”

New Royal bournemouth hospital artist's impression
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New Royal Bournemouth Hospital artist’s impression

Poole Hospital artist impression
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Poole Hospital artist’s impression

Longer journey for many patients

The plan to close Poole Hospital’s accident and emergency department is controversial in Purbeck as it will mean a longer journey for many patients who will now have to travel to the new facility at Bournemouth.

It’s probable that in an emergency, patients from towns like Swanage are more likely to be taken to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester. However building work for its new emergency department and critical care unit won’t start until 2024.

There’s now a commitment to open an urgent treatment centre at Poole Hospital, once the A and E closes, but it’s not yet clear exactly what facilities will be provided.

Swanage Hospital MIU sign

The hours of the MIU at Swanage Hospital have been reduced over the summer due to a staffing crisis

“We continue to be concerned”

Councillor Debby Monkhouse, who leads the Swanage Town Council emergency health services working group said:

“We continue to be concerned about the reorganisation of emergency care in Dorset and the closure of the accident and emergency department at Poole Hospital. The latest news that Swanage Hospital’s minor injuries unit (MIU) has reduced its opening hours over the summer due to staffing issues is also worrying.

“When it was proposed to close the A and E at Poole and rebuild a larger A and E further away from Purbeck in Bournemouth, people in Swanage were told that there would be an enhancement of local services.

“So far, GP funding has not increased, the only NHS dentist in Swanage is not accepting new patients, there’s currently a 25 percent reduction in the opening hours of the MIU and we’ve just had a two year fight to save the Swanage ambulance car!

The Mowlem
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NHS drop-in event between 10 am and 4 pm on Thursday 29th June 2023 at The Mowlem

“Our chance to get some answers”

Debby continued:

“There’s plenty of questions to ask, like whether Purbeck ambulance emergencies will be taken to the new BEACH centre in Bournemouth when it opens or will they go to DCH?

“Will Poole A and E remain open for a time, once the BEACH centre is open to allow for any teething problems and the completion of building work at Dorset County Hospital?

“It’s unclear whether the Poole urgent treatment centre will be doctor or nurse-led and what can be treated at the urgent treatment centre that cannot be treated in the Swanage minor injuries unit?

“If we need to get hospital care and aren’t going by ambulance, which hospital should Swanage residents head to first?

“And what can be done to support our minor injuries unit to quickly return to a full service, in time for the summer influx of visitors?

“I would encourage people to ask these questions and more. This is our chance to get some answers. I really hope they do listen and respond to our very valid concerns!”

As well as the information on offer, Live Well Dorset will be giving free health checks and there will also be Covid vaccinations available for those wanting their first or second vaccine, the over 75s and people with weakened immune systems.

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