Three Dorset hospitals merge into one NHS Trust to improve quality of care

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee

Three hospitals in Dorset have merged to form one NHS Trust in a move to improve the quality of care for patients.

Poole Hospital, the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Christchurch Hospital have merged to become the new University Hospitals Dorset NHS Trust. 

Managers say the change will cut costs and improve treatment for patients while allowing them to tackle Covid-19 better.

All of this work is about improving services and outcomes for patients, and that is what excites our clinicians. Our clinicians don't want to spend loads of time thinking about how they can save money they wan't to do things better for their patients and that's why they support it.

Debbie Fleming, Chief Executive, University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

The new Trust will have university status which means two big benefits for patient care.

Firstly, it will attract quality personnel from around the country and secondly, improve quality of care because of enhanced research facilities.

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However, campaigners argue that some patients will now be more at risk as they face longer journeys for emergency and maternity care.

Over the years there has been huge opposition to the merger mainly from people living on the Isle of Purbeck, such as in Wareham. 

The campaigners say replacing the Emergency Department in Poole with an Urgent Treatment Centre, is a cost cutting exercise, and that longer ambulance journeys to Bournemouth will put lives at risk.  

It's obviously easier to staff less intensively staffed services that won't be populated by such high grade people and cheaper but that doesn't make it safer or address the fact that people can't get to services in time.

Debby Monkhouse, Defend Dorset NHS

New buildings will shortly be under construction, including a new Emergency Department three times the size of what already exists, plus a new maternity and children's centre. 

The aim is to provide patients with a single centre of specialist treatment.

If you came to Bournemouth for instance and we discovered you had a fractured hip, we would sort you out from an emergency department point and then we would put you back in an ambulance and transfer you to Poole Hospital. Under the new plans you'll be taken to the site the first time and you'll stay there and get all the case and specialities delivered on one site under one roof.

Leanne Aggas, Head of Nursing, Medical Care Group

At the moment there are more ambulance journeys between the hospitals in Poole and Bournemouth than any other two hospitals in the country - about 4,000 trips every year.

That is going to be reduced to about 400, freeing up ambulances for other tasks.

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The new Urgent Treatment Centre at Poole will be open 24 hours, and until it is built, the existing Emergency Department will remain. 

When the merger is fully completed, Poole will focus on planned procedures, with emergency and specialist teams located at Bournemouth.