There is evidence that the plans to downgrade Poole A&E, close Poole Maternity + Children’s Units will put patients at unnecessary risk each year, due to longer times to access Hospital care. Residents are standing up for our lives.
We implore Poole Health Scrutiny Councillors: Jane Newell, Vishal Gupta, Malcolm Farrell, Jennifer Hodges, Drew Mellor, Marion Pope, Louise Russell and Russell Trent to vote on 17th December to send the plans back to the Secretary of State for Independent Review.
Can you help? Please contact your Councillors urgently, before the vote. Show your support at the peaceful demonstration on Monday 17th December, 4.30pm at the Civic Centre, and in the Health Scrutiny Meeting from 5pm, where the vote will be taken.
Do you know about the South West Ambulance Trust Report? This looked at what would have happened to emergency ambulance patients treated at Poole, January-April last year, if A&E and Maternity services had not been available at Poole. The Report accepts that critically ill mums-to-be, children, and adults would have been put at potential harm by longer travel times to access care at another Hospital.
In the Summer residents took Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, who organise Dorset Health Services, to the High Court. The Judge asked how many patients would be put at risk by the plans, based on the Ambulance Trust Report? The CCG admitted that 132 ambulance patients over 4 months, or 396 patients per year, would be “at potential risk of harm”. The cases make it clear that for some patients a longer journey could have led to fatality, including a child post cardiac arrest, and an unresponsive child, who would both have faced longer journeys in situations where minutes can be a matter of life and death.
The Ambulance Trust called for Dorset CCG to ensure that these patients cases be reviewed by ‘a range of Specialist Clinicians’, to assess the likely consequences of longer journeys. The Clinicians asked for time, and access to patients Hospital records, but were not given this. They also pointed out that most Maternity and Child emergencies do not come to Hospital by ambulance. The risk to non-ambulance emergencies has not been assessed at all.
We asked a Dorset A&E Doctor to review the cases in the Ambulance Trust Report, who assessed that just under half were critically ill, so that a longer journey could have proved fatal for them. Many Dorset residents will be put at risk of harm due to longer journey times if plans to close Poole Trauma A&E, Specialist Maternity + Children’s Units go ahead.
Dorset County Council has been unable to agree these plans are safe, and has referred the plans to the Secretary of State because “the evidence needs further investigation to the current claim that these travel times will not cause loss of life.”
For many critically ill patients, travel time to Hospital is of the essence. The Ambulance Trust says that travel onto Bournemouth will add 19 minutes. Conditions that cannot be treated in the Ambulance include heart attack, some types of cardiac arrest, stroke, sepsis, meningitis and, as Ambulances do not carry blood they cannot treat haemorrhage in trauma or maternity emergency. For heart attacks, every minute of delay results in loss of heart muscle. For strokes, there is a fixed treatment window. For sepsis, every hour delay results in an increase in mortality.
The plans mean Maternity care for deliveries under 32 weeks, and intensive and high dependency newborn care, will only be available at Bournemouth Hospital, in the far east of Dorset, for the whole County, out of safe reach. Many patients face long emergency journeys, beyond safe guidelines, if Poole Trauma A&E is lost.
Poole Council has a duty to scrutinise and risk assess substantial variations to services provided by the NHS. We call upon Poole Health Scrutiny Councillors to vote on 17th December to refer the plans to the Secretary of State for Independent Review.
If the plans are not referred, we call on Councillors to give medical assurances that longer journeys would not have led to disability or death for the patients listed in the Ambulance Trust Report.
The Judicial Review Claimant is seeking leave to Appeal, supported by Defend Dorset NHS: