Independent national experts on NHS service change have backed clinically-led plans to transform hospital services for the people of Dorset.

In a landmark decision, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) – an independent expert on NHS service change – ruled in favour of the plans to improve services for local people.

Poole Hospital will become the major planned care hospital for east Dorset and Royal Bournemouth Hospital the major emergency care hospital.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, accepted the advice from the panel to allow the proposals – which will bring huge improvements to thousands of patients – to go ahead.

The news will provide better care for patients, and help to secure £147 million from HM Treasury to invest in both hospitals, and alongside this, the trusts are also planning to merge to become the East Dorset Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

This is just the latest vote of confidence in locally-produced plans by frontline NHS clinicians in Dorset to invest in state-of-the-art hospital facilities for the benefit of people and the community across the region.

The Court of Appeal recently also upheld a decision by the High Court to give support to the plans, part of a Clinical Services Review (CSR) led by NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The plans have also successfully been through independent scrutiny by NHS England Clinical Senate as well as NHS England process and assurance tests.

The decisions that were made following the review will bring a number of benefits to people who use local NHS services, these include:

  • £147 million investment in acute hospital services, including a new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit at Royal Bournemouth Hospital;
  • Redevelopment and investment in Poole Hospital to create a new Urgent Treatment Centre and 14 theatres which will help reduce waiting times and prevent cancelled operations for patients requiring planned care;
  • A new purpose built women’s and children’s unit on the eastern side of Dorset, built to modern healthcare standards;
  • More services provided closer to people’s homes;
  • New ways of working for NHS staff that will make best use of their skills and provide better care for local people;
  • Excellent networks of clinical services for stroke, cardiac and cancer services ensuring that everyone gets the same level of care across the county.

Tim Goodson, Chief Officer of NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, said “We are very pleased that we are now able to move forward in the process of securing a significant investment of £147m into local healthcare and proceed with changes that will make a real difference to local people

“The plans have passed each stage of independent scrutiny because we have followed the correct process.

“The plans were clinically-led and designed and are supported by all the NHS organisations in Dorset because they will bring investment and patient benefits.

“The current approach is simply not sustainable, everyone acknowledges this. With this news, we will now be able to focus on delivering the patient benefits that these plans will bring.

“We also welcome, and look forward to, the opportunity to work together with all interested parties, and the public, to rapidly progress these proposals for the benefit of our local communities.”

“This is great news and moves us a step nearer to delivering very significant benefits for patients,” said Debbie Fleming, joint Chief Executive of Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“Our priority now is to continue to work with our staff, patients and partners to take forward our plans so that we can develop the best possible services together.”

Alyson O’Donnell, currently Medical Director of The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and shadow Chief Medical Officer for the merged Trust, said: “These changes represent a once in a generation opportunity to create a healthcare system for the future.

“We are very proud of our hospitals but this investment will give us the chance to reconfigure our services to ensure a sustainable future which will benefit us all.”

The IRP has a membership with wide-ranging expertise in clinical healthcare, NHS management, public and patient involvement. The focus of the panel’s work is the patient and quality of care in the context of safe, sustainable and accessible services for local people.

Further information

The national investment of £147m will be used in line with the decisions made as part of the Clinical Services Review in 2017.

The review set out that Dorset County Hospital will continue to be an emergency and planned hospital for its communities and the CCG is committed to working with DCH to ensure that it has the right level of investment now and in the future to continue to provide high quality services. DCH has plans to expand its Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit as well as establish an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset’s Clinical Services Review.

Picture Captions

Artist’s impression of the planned Emergency Department at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, which will also include Critical Care, Maternity and Paediatrics.

Artist’s impression of the planned redevelopment of the operating theatres at Poole Hospital.