Dear Councillors Newell, Gupta and Brown
Keep Our NHS Public Dorset have been campaigning for many months now to save Poole A&E and other NHS services in Dorset. Most of the arguments on both sides have been aired and the decision to close Poole A&E was taken on 20th September 2017.
Our organisation has been concerned from the start about the whole process with regards to the oversight, transparency and complex scrutiny arrangements. It’s quite clear that many, many people across Dorset have been, and still are unaware of the magnitude of the changes being proposed and the scale of the cuts. By downgrading Poole A&E and removing 407 beds from Poole Hospital we are of course extremely worried about it’s long term future. When we were told that Poole Hospital would become an Urgent Care Centre we did not expect there to be so many bed closures. People needing operations and people recuperating afterwards surely need beds. We have been taken aback by the impact this decision will have.
We met Debbie Fleming at Poole Hospital and she told us that she wanted Poole Hospital to be the Main Emergency Hospital in Dorset and she has had to put on a brave face since the decision was taken to rip the heart out of her hospital, on her watch. The 2015 Report by Steer Davies Gleave (commissioned by the CCG) concluded that Poole Hospital would be the best place for the Main Emergency Hospital.
On Tuesday you will not be voting to reverse the decision taken on 20th September 2017. If the Dorset CCG are confident that these closures will lead to better patient care then they have nothing to fear from an independent review. If anything it could strengthen their case if the review supported their findings.
However, there are thousands of people who are not convinced and who fear what is to come and they would welcome an independent review. 75,000 people signed petitions to express their unease at the closure of NHS services. With regards to the Clinical Services Review consultation questionnaire, if you add the people who didn’t want either Poole or Bournemouth A&E’s to close, to the number who wanted Poole to be the Main Emergency Hospital there is a clear majority opposed to the closure of Poole A&E.
The closure of any NHS service is bound to worry members of the public, especially when the NHS seems close to collapse in many parts of the country. It surely requires more investment and infrastructure, not less. Only yesterday, Bob Kerslake resigned as the chair of the board at King’s College hospital in London because “hospitals are being asked to make too many cost savings”.
Please, please, please support an independent review. Fairness and common sense would best be served by an independent review in the light of public concern. Surely this is the best way to ensure that there is seen to be a robust, proper and real consultation and that democracy and accountability is alive and well. There is no good reason NOT to ask experts for a second opinion and this is what the independent review offers. If the plans run in to trouble and lives are lost, it will not look good if an independent review was shunned.
So please, do think about the public on Tuesday and meet their concerns by voting for an independent review.
The Steering Committee Keep Our NHS Public Dorset