Hospital NHS trusts confirm merger to “disappointment” of Swanage campaigners

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are set to merge, meaning that emergency and maternity services will be able to move from Poole Hospital and be amalgamated at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

There are also plans for a new theatre complex at Poole Hospital and the creation of a new Macmillan Unit at Christchurch Hospital.


The move to create the new University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust was approved on Tuesday 15th September 2020 following a decision from the boards of directors and councils of governors from both trusts.

Longer travelling times for patients from Purbeck

Campaigners in Swanage who have opposed the merger argue that moving essential services from Poole and Bournemouth will mean longer travelling times for patients from Purbeck and that will risk lives.

This merger is due to be set into motion on Friday 18th September 2020 with the issue of the legal orders – and the establishment of the University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust will happen on Thursday 1st October 2020.

The decision to approve the merger came following a review from NHS England and Improvement. It was satisfied that this merger could speed up change and decision-making and that the trusts would be able to provide improvements for patients.

Poole Hospital architect impression
Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Architect’s impression of the redevelopment at Poole Hospital which will include a new theatre complex

Trust chief executive “delighted”

Debbie Fleming, joint chief executive said:

“This is fantastic news. We are delighted that this is happening as we believe our merger will help our three hospitals to provide even better care, and develop world-class services as we become a university hospital trust.

“Our new organisation will allow us to work better together to tackle COVID-19 and realise our ambitious plans for the future.

“We appreciate there will be a lot of work to be done to bring our trusts together and this will go alongside our capital plans and the reconfiguration of services but much of this is well underway and is progressing well.

“Our organisation development programme centres around developing a shared set of values and creating a strong positive culture together, and we have an ambitious three year plan for taking this forward.”

“Realise the full benefits of our merger”

David Moss, joint chairman said:

“We thank all our partners, including Dorset Healthcare, Dorset County Hospital, our local councils, South Western Ambulance Service and the Dorset CCG.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely together as part of the Our Dorset Integrated Care System to realise the full benefits of our merger and our bright future together as University Hospitals Dorset.”

Swanage Town councillor “disappointed” at decision

However, Swanage Town councillor and coordinator of Defend Dorset NHS, Debby Monkhouse was less enthusiastic about the merger. She said:

“I’m not surprised about this decision but I am disappointed, as this merger means that the moving of maternity services and accident and emergency services from Poole Hospital to Royal Bournemouth Hospital can go ahead. I understand that the vote wasn’t unanimous and I am pleased about that.

“Emergency and maternity hospital care at Poole Hospital is already a long distance away from Swanage and to move it even further away to Bournemouth, will only increase the risk to the lives of our residents and visitors. This will affect our whole town including adults, children, mums-to-be and newborns.

“This merger decision makes it even more essential that we keep our Purbeck and Swanage Paramedic Car, which plays an outstanding role in providing lifesaving treatment within our community.

“The case will also continue to be made for the mitigation of the risk to us by campaigning for an A&E Local at Poole Hospital, which can provide daytime emergency care. It’s also important to reinstate newborn intensive care at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.”

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