Dorset's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is currently conducting a Dorset-wide consultation, open until February 28, 2017, on proposals for changing the way local community and hospital based services in the country are organised.
The CCG has made it clear that provision of healthcare in Dorset is, "unsustainable in terms of staffing, facilities and finances." Problems include the rural location and long distances to travel, more complex deliveries of more babies, small hospitals with overstretched staff and care organised according to NHS boundaries, rather than need.
Between October and December 2015, five Royal Colleges (Paediatricians and Child Health, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Anaesthetists, Midwives and Nursing) were invited to review recommendations for childrens' medical services in Dorset. The recommendations, originally made by the Clinical Commissioning Group in their Clinical Sevices Review in early 2015, included closing Kingfisher Childrens' Ward and moving the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) to Poole. A new, Paediatric Assessment Unit would be established at Dorchester hospital.
After a passionate campaign to save Kingfisher Ward/SCBU by local residents, friends and family of current and former patients, MPs Richard Drax and Oliver Letwin and the Daily Echo, the five Royal Colleges were invited to review the situation.
They visited Dorset County Hospital Poole Hospital, Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital, Yeovil District Hopsital and met key staff from Southampton General Hospital.
They recommended that hospital care for children in Dorset was reorganised along the following lines:
- More paediatricians in Poole
- Care for premature and sick babies to be concentrated in a specialist neonatal unit in Poole or intensive care in Southampton
- Poole and Bournemouth to integrate maternity care in Eaast Dorset
- DCH and Yeovil to decide in the next six months whether integrating maternity and paediatric care would be safe and sustainable for the future.
- If not, they must integrate with teams in East Dorset towards a 'One Dorset' service, with medical staff working across two sites to provide care
Final decisions on the future of Kingfisher Ward and all paediatric care in west Dorset will be made when Dorchester and Yeovil hospitals have come to a mutually agreed decision after the consultation has closed.