Wareham Hospital still has a future, confirms NHS bosses

NHS Dorset Healthcare says it will continue to provide services for Purbeck residents at Wareham Hospital, despite withdrawing from plans to create a new health hub on the old Wareham Middle School.

The original vision, working together with Dorset Council and the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), included creating a new integrated health hub which would have provided all the services currently available at Wareham Hospital, alongside a new GP practice and housing for people with care and support needs.

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Old Wareham Middle School site
Dorset Council

The old Wareham Middle School site will be redeveloped for housing for adults with additional needs and possibly a new GP surgery

“Hub project will not be going forward”

In a statement obtained by Swanage.News, a spokesperson for Dorset Healthcare said:

“There is no consensus among partners about the benefits of physically co-locating services on one site, when weighed against the costs involved, and so the hub project will not be going forward at this time.”

“We will continue to deliver a range of services”

Under the health hub plans, Wareham Hospital was to be demolished and the site earmarked for housing. However Dorset Healthcare has now confirmed that Wareham Hospital still has a future. The spokesperson added:

“For our part, we will continue to deliver a range of services from Wareham Hospital, which currently include physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, podiatry, new-born baby health checks, audiology, pain management, mental health services and much more.

“The hospital still has sufficient space to offer us scope to develop and enhance our services as required in the coming years.”

Exterior of Wareham Hospital

Wareham Hospital runs a large number of outpatient clinics for residents across Purbeck including Swanage

Homes for adults with additional needs

Dorset Council who owns the old middle school site, off Worgret Road, is now ploughing ahead with its Purbeck Gateway housing scheme, which will provide around 90 much needed homes for adults with additional needs to help them live as independently as possible.

It’s also hoped that a new GP surgery will be built on the site to provide modern facilities for the Wareham Surgery but that will be down to Dorset CCG to provide the funding.

Councillors gave the go ahead

At the Dorset Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday 1st March 2022, councillors gave the go ahead to start looking for a developer, who would draw up plans and apply for planning permission to get the project rolling.

Councillor Peter Wharf portfolio holder for adult social care and health, speaking in the meeting said:

“We are disappointed that Dorset Healthcare haven’t necessarily provided what we hoped they might, but the fact is that this is an excellent outcome and will provide much needed accommodation and services that have been in progress for quite some time. So I’m really pleased and it is an exciting project.”

Wareham Surgery

The current Wareham Surgery could move to new modern premises if Dorset CCG agrees to fund the new build

“Slightly worried about the GP surgery”

Councillor Nick Ireland voiced his concern. He said:

“As a Dorset Healthcare governor, I think we’ve missed an opportunity here but it is what it is.

“I’m also slightly worried about the GP surgery. From my own experience at Crossways (near Dorchester), we’ve had the CCG try to pull back from having a new surgery in a new development.”

“Crack on and get it done”

Councillor Graham Carr-Jones portfolio holder for housing and community safety said:

“We share the disappointment but I don’t want to be disappointed, I want to be excited because it means that this is within Dorset Council’s control.

“We’ve actually got the ability to crack on and get it done – the housing that is so desperately needed in Purbeck.”

Red Oak Court
Dorset Council

The Red Oak Court temporary modular units are providing much needed homes, until permanent accommodation can be built on the site

Temporary accommodation

As a temporary measure, Dorset Council has already started to use the land at the old middle school off Worgret Road, by installing 17 modular, self-contained homes for adults with learning disabilities, mental health issues or physical impairments.

This accommodation called Red Oak Court will be replaced with permanent housing under the Purbeck Gateway scheme, allowing the modular units to be relocated and repurposed.

Integrated health hub in Dorchester

Meanwhile, Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, run by a separate NHS trust, is forging ahead with its plans for an integrated health hub.

As part of a £77 million scheme funded by the government’s new hospitals programme, the new health hub will sit alongside a larger emergency department and intensive care unit.

Read the full statement from NHS Dorset Healthcare

“We have been working with our partners at Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group and Dorset Council for a number of years to evaluate the long-term requirements for health and social care in the Purbeck area, and plan future services and facilities accordingly.

“Part of that work involved scoping out proposals for a scheme which would co-locate health teams, GPs and social care services at one ‘hub’ site in Wareham.

“However, health and social care priorities and approaches have moved on during this time. This has particularly been the case during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen a marked increase in virtual collaborative working across teams and services.

“There is no consensus among partners about the benefits of physically co-locating services on one site, when weighed against the costs involved, and so the hub project will not be going forward at this time.

“For our part, we will continue to deliver a range of services from Wareham Hospital, which currently include physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, podiatry, new-born baby health checks, audiology, pain management, mental health services and much more.

“The hospital still has sufficient space to offer us scope to develop and enhance our services as required in the coming years. At the same time, in line with national NHS policy, we remain committed to providing care and support for people in their own homes as much as possible, whether virtually or in person.”

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