TODAY marks the start of a Dorset Echo campaign to keep the Kingfisher Ward and the Special Care Baby Unit at Dorset County Hospital open.

On Wednesday, the Echo revealed that the children’s ward at Dorset County Hospital is at risk in a major overhaul of the county’s healthcare services.

As part of the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Clinical Services Review, it is recommended that children who have serious illnesses or need long-term care would have to go to the east of the county.

There would also be just one Special Care Baby Unit – again, in the east.

Under the plans, a Paediatric Assessment Unit would be established at the Dorchester hospital.

The plans have been labelled ‘unacceptable’ with west and south Dorset receiving a ‘second-class’ health system.

The Dorset Echo is launching a campaign backing residents who want to keep the ward open, keep the care of children in west Dorset local and save the children’s ward which has saved the lives of so many others.

Jodie Wright of Dorchester, whose daughter Kalli received a year’s worth of treatment for kidney cancer when she was just 18 months-old, has backed the Echo campaign and is now urging others to do the same.

Kalli, now three, is in remission.

Mrs Wright said the staff and care on the ward were ‘brilliant’ and labelled the facilities as ‘superb’.

She said the overhaul would have a huge affect on families if Bournemouth was the closest ward and said: “The added stress, the added travel, it would have a huge impact on my life if the care was not on my doorstep.”

Patient governor Michel Hooper-Immins, chairman of the Weymouth and Portland Health and Wellbeing Group, called for Dorset residents to make their views known over the plans.

He said: “I think people need to voice their opinions on this and we need to show the CCG that we are not happy with the proposals.

“I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation, to write to their MPs and to the CCG and voice their objections and show that what we want is for south and west Dorset to have the best facilities possible.

“The CCG have put their ideas out there and now it’s up to us to speak up and to speak up loudly.”

Commenting on the Echo’s Facebook page, Liz Emery called the Kingfisher Ward an ‘important lifeline’ and questioned why anyone would want to take that away in an emergency.

The Echo is urging people across Dorset to show their support for the Kingfisher Ward and make their views known by supporting the campaign.

Copies of the petition to support the campaign will be available at local newsagents. If you would like one call the newsdesk on 01305 830999. Send coupons to Kingfisher Petition, Dorset Echo, Fleet House, Hampshire Road, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 9XD.


‘CHILDREN must be able to get the help they need without having to travel vast distances’.

That’s the view of West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin, who has pledged to back the Echo campaign.

Mr Letwin said the campaign will help him ensure that Dorset County Hospital remains a full service district hospital – including for children with severe and persistent conditions.

He said: “Of course I recognise that the CCG is trying to produce the best possible clinical results, and of course that is a hugely important ambition.

“But, in a highly rural area, we also need to take account of what life is like for families with children who have serious and persistent conditions.”

Mr Letwin, who was re-elected as West Dorset MP earlier this month, has vowed to raise the issues of the negative impact of potential further travelling distances for families with the hospital’s bosses when he meets with over the next few weeks.

Mr Letwin said: “They must be able to get the help they need without having to travel vast distances – and this makes it really important to maintain a full set of children’s services in Dorchester.

“I shall be raise these issues in my discussions with the clinical commissioning group and the hospital’s senior management over the next few weeks."

South Dorset MP Richard Drax, who was also re-elected earlier this month, is away.


THE mother of a child with life-threatening illnesses has said that she will be supporting the campaign to save the children’s ward.

Naomi Patterson’s son George, aged seven, suffered from pneumococcal meningitis before his first birthday. As a result, he now suffers with a range of conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, scoliosis, gastrostomy and loss of vision in his right eye.

George is also peg fed, deaf and requires constant care from the hospital. He often has to stay overnight while receiving treatment.

Mrs Patterson, 32, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant there is a campaign; we need as much support as we can get.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea to have a campaign and get lots of people involved, without a doubt.”

She has expressed her disgust at the CCG’s proposals.

In tears, she said: “I feel sick, this will massively affect us we can’t be travelling to the east of he county and we have to stand up to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

“It’s disgusting that they’re doing this.”

She said that she moved from Weymouth to Dorchester be closer to the local health services for her son.

Mrs Patterson said: “Sometimes I don’t think George will make the journey to this hospital.

“If we have to go to Bournemouth, it’s not as if the hospital is near the train station.

“I feel really worried and I don’t know what the future holds for our children.”

She added that neither she or her husband drive so travelling to the east could take several hours.

She currently has open access to DCH in case her son experiences any major problems or complications. The family has also discussed and put together an advanced care plan for George.

She said that she is worried about how the changes, if they go ahead could affect her son’s health as the the doctors and nurses on the children’s ward are familiar with the family, her son and his condition.

“I feel that I’m really lucky with DCH, if I ever hear or see any negative comments about them, I’m always the first to defend them. I think they do an amazing job.”

Mrs Patterson said she was indebted to all the staff at Kingfisher ward and that, despite assurances from health chiefs that no decision had yet been made, she was fearful for the future.


HEALTH bosses say no decision has been made on the future of Kingfisher ward.
Detailed proposals are still being discussed for a Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU) based at Dorset County Hospital (DCH).
This unit would assess and treat children referred by their GP or 111 for a specialist paediatric opinion.
Children would stay on the PAU for a period of time for observation and treatment and beds would be available for short-stays.
Some very sick children may be assessed as specifically needing more complex care requiring acute inpatient overnight stays. This would require them to be transferred to a children’s ward at the proposed Major Emergency Hospital in the east. Alternatively, they may have to go to Southampton General Hospital (SGH) where intensive care and major surgery is available, as would be the case now.
The provision of children’s services from DCH is still being discussed to ensure a proposal that will deliver high quality care. Their vision is to provide healthcare for the majority of west Dorset’s children in west Dorset’s primary, community and acute hospital settings.
By improving care outside of hospitals, the expectation is in the future parents would be able to “access care more readily in the evenings and weekends, closer to home”.
For children requiring acute hospital services there would continue to be a wide range of services available at DCH, supported by services available at Poole Hospital, Royal Bournemouth Hospital and SGH.
The review is not suggesting changing the availability or delivery method of blood tests, physiotherapy, and emergency medicine for children. It would stay as it is at DCH.

Currently, some children with PEG feeding can be cared for at DCH, depending on their condition, but some need treating at Poole or SGH.
This would continue to be the case under the discussions regardless of whether DCH has inpatient beds or care delivered within a PAU.
For children who need intensive care, they would still be taken to Southampton General Hospital, as is currently done.
Based on admissions data at DCH only a small percentage of children require services outside these core operating hours. The majority of children who are treated at DCH now would continue to be treated there.
The PAU is being considered because there is growing evidence across the country that this type of unit is very effective at treating children and preventing unnecessary overnight hospital admissions.