Health trust scraps another clinic for Purbeck residents

Following the closure of the chemotherapy clinic at Wareham Hospital, University Hospitals Dorset has now scrapped the rheumatology follow up clinic at Swanage Hospital with no warning.

GPs in Purbeck were told on Friday 1st September 2023 by the health trust that runs Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals that their patients would have to travel to Poole Hospital with immediate effect.

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Swanage Hospital

The rheumatology follow up clinic used to take place every month at Swanage Hospital, delivering care closer to home for Swanage residents and saving them the longer journey to Poole Hospital

No consultation prior to the decision

The specialist nurse who ran the monthly clinic at Swanage Hospital retired at the beginning of September 2023 but would have had to give the health trust three months’ notice. No replacement nurse was recruited over this time, leading to the closure of the outreach clinic.

There was no consultation prior to the decision, with patients finding out when they received the surprise letter from the health trust, along with their GPs.

Travelling to Poole isn’t easy for many of the patients due to their condition with painful joints in their hands and legs making movement difficult. For some patients their condition is completely debilitating.

Swanage Hospital garden

The Friends of Swanage Hospital funded a £1.2 million refurbishment of Swanage Hospital in 2021 which included the new therapeutic garden

“We have had no response”

Chair of Friends of Swanage Hospital Deirdre Selwyn said:

“Following the very successful Health Information event at The Mowlem earlier this year, which many members of the community attended, we were extremely disappointed to learn that – with no prior warning – the essential rheumatology clinic was to be discontinued at Swanage Hospital resulting in patients having to make the arduous journey to Poole Hospital for their review.

“Despite our efforts to discuss this with University Hospitals Dorset, to date we have had no response which has, albeit reluctantly, made us take the decision to ask the community to use their ‘Voice’ once again to reinstate the service.

“Those who are affected by this decision please email or write to me, giving details of how the journey to Poole Hospital will impact upon you, remembering to add your name and address on your correspondence. Your voice is the strongest force that we have!”

Wareham Hospital4

Chemotherapy clinic has been closed at Wareham Hospital

Second essential outreach clinic to close

This is the second time recently that a successful clinic in Purbeck has been closed with no consultation by University Hospitals Dorset, leaving vulnerable patients with no choice but to travel further for their care.

In July 2023 the chemotherapy clinic at Wareham Hospital was closed in similar circumstances following the retirement of the specialist nurse who ran the service.

At the time University Hospitals Dorset group medical director Daniel Webster said that the service had been put on hold due to staffing shortages.

Swanage Hospital MIU sign

The sign may say 8 am to 8 pm but the minor injuries unit has only been operational between 9 am and 6 pm since July 2023

Reduction in hours of Swanage Hospital’s minor injuries unit

Meanwhile at Swanage Hospital, the hours of the minor injuries unit that were meant to have been reduced temporarily over summer 2023, have not been restored this autumn. The MIU remains open only from 9 am to 6 pm, instead of the original hours of 8 am to 8 pm.

In a statement released in June 2023, a spokesperson for Dorset Healthcare, which runs Swanage Hospital and is responsible for the MIU said:

“Unfortunately, due to staffing challenges, we are reducing the opening hours at Swanage Hospital’s minor injuries unit this summer.

“It will now be open every day from 9 am to 6 pm, instead of 8 am to 8 pm, until the end of August. This change will be regularly reviewed and if we are able to return to normal opening times sooner, we will do so. We will keep the community informed.”

Dorset Healthcare was contacted on Thursday 21st September 2023 and asked about the resumption of the normal MIU hours however it has not replied nor acknowledged the media enquiry.

Further information

  • For those who have been affected by the closure of the rheumatology follow up clinic and wish to contact the chair of Friends of Swanage Hospital Deirdre Selwyn, they can do so via email: membership@friendsofswanagehospital.org.uk
  • Or by post: The Friends of Swanage Hospital, Queens Road, Swanage, Dorset BH19 2ES
  • Read more about University Hospitals Dorset’s vision and values

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