Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (DCCG) has signalled its intention to work to maintain a consultant-led maternity and overnight children’s service in Dorchester as part of a single maternity and paediatrics service for Dorset.

The announcement was made by Tim Goodson, CCG Chief Officer, at a meeting of the Dorset Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (DHOSC) on Wednesday 20 December.

The decision to create a single maternity and paediatrics service for Dorset was made by the CCG’s Governing Body in September 2017 after the conclusion of the Clinical Services Review public consultation.

The Governing Body also agreed to ‘seek to commission the delivery of consultant-led maternity services integrated across Dorset County Hospital and Yeovil District Hospital for the Dorset population’.

However, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group has now decided to carry out a review of clinical services across its own county, which will include maternity and paediatrics.

Mr Goodson told the HOSC: ‘We have been in discussions with Somerset CCG around the future possible configuration of maternity and paediatrics services across Dorchester and Yeovil. It is now Somerset CCG’s intention to carry out a full clinical service review similar to that which Dorset has already undertaken and they would wish to include the options for maternity and paediatrics services, including those at Yeovil, as part of that review.

‘We know from our experience that such reviews are complex and take a considerable time to undertake and reach a decision point.

‘We believe that having gone through the review in Dorset and raised a number of concerns around the future sustainability of these services, that we need to give a clear steer on the future of the services. We are taking this step now to give local parents, children and staff a degree of certainty about their future.

‘Dorset CCG’s Governing Body will need to agree a way forward in the new year. Whilst I would not wish to pre-empt any decision, it is our intention to create a single service across Dorset and work to maintain a consultant-led maternity service and overnight paediatrics service in Dorchester, as well as at the major emergency hospital.

‘If a sustainable model can be found then we will consult with the public on these proposals before making any decision. We will remain open to Yeovil Hospital joining part or all of their service with Dorset in the future should that be the outcome of Somerset’s review.’

Patricia Miller, Chief Executive of Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘I am delighted that the CCG has stated its intention to support the retention of these services at DCH. This is good news for our patients and our staff. I would like to thank our local residents and our staff for their patience during the last 18 months. We will now work with colleagues at Poole Hospital and Royal Bournemouth Hospital to develop a sustainable model for families in our local communities.’