HEALTH bosses have insisted they are not proposing any changes to Dorset County Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit- but they can’t make any promises about Kingfisher Ward.

The Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has moved to clarify the position around the neonatal unit following public reaction to its Clinical Services Review, However, in an interview with the Echo, chairman Dr Forbes Watson and chief office Tim Goodson could make no such promises surrounding the Dorchester hospital’s Kingfisher Ward and claimed they faced a ‘difficult decision’ in balancing outcomes for patients with the impact on families of transferring services.

The health chiefs were also keen to stress that no decisions had yet been made and urged people to contribute to a public consultation exercise later this summer.

In the interview Dr Watson and Mr Goodson also revealed – n Health services in Dorset are facing a financial gap of £200m by 2021 if nothing is done n The decision surrounding children’s services is not driven by cost n There are likely to be two options for paediatrics at Dorset County Hospital on the table during the consultation, with one proposing keeping inpatient services They want as many people as possible to take part in the consultation process Dr Watson said that the CCG’s review was set in the context of a growing and increasing population that was putting added pressure on health services in the county.

He said that while the organisation recognised the financial challenges it was facing, the review was also about finding better ways of doing things.

He said: “The reasons we are doing the review are basically to maintain and improve where we can the safety, the quality and particularly the sustainability of services.

“Fortunately we are in a financially viable position at this point in time but unless we look at opportunities for working in a different way that’s not going to be the case going forward given the demands of the population.

Dr Watson said that, while much of the public outcry had focussed on services being transferred, the overall aim of the review was more about treating people closer to home with increased services at home and in the community.

He said: “Our vision is to try and have an integrated system that quite frankly delivers the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

Dr Watson said that the proposals that had been put forward by the CCG so far were currently being externally reviewed and they may change as a result when they go out to consultation, which is likely to begin towards the end of August.

He said that more details on the proposals would be published ahead of the consultation and they would be put in ‘plain English’.

The consultation will run for around 12 weeks with the CCG keen to get as many people involved as possible and the feedback will be independently reviewed before a final business case is put before the CCG board around March next year.

Dr Watson stressed that anything approved then will not necessarily be implemented straight away, with the timeframe for implementation of the review between five and ten years.

He added: “We can’t emphasise enough that no decisions have been made at this time.”

Dr Watson said the proposals put forward surrounding acute hospital care were based on a report by Sir Richard Keogh, which advocates specialist centres where possible with 24-hour consultant presence on site – something Dorset does not actually offer at present.

He said: “If you create specialist centres, which deliver 24/7 consultant on-site delivered care you significantly improve the outcomes for patients, despite travel times.”

Mr Goodson said that when it came to children’s services there was a ‘fine balance’ to be achieved between providing the system that achieves the best patient outcomes and the impact of relocating services on patients and their families.

He said: “It’s a difficult decision.”

The proposals from the CCG that go to consultation could still change as a result of the external reviews taking place, but as it stand there are likely to be two options on the table for children’s services at Dorset County Hospital.

One would see no change with inpatient services remaining as they are at the Dorchester hospital.

Mr Goodson said they felt it was ‘right’ to put both options to the public.

The other would see the Kingfisher Ward become an assessment unit with a specialist unit in Poole or Bournemouth for overnight stays.

In terms of the SCBU, the CCG bosses say that as things stand they are proposing no changes to what is provided at present.

Dr Watson said: “The proposals are not making any changes to neonatal care, we need to be clear on that.”

Dorset Echo:

DORSET County Hospital's care for children and teenagers has been praised in an independent survey.
The hospital's Kingfisher Ward faces an uncertain future under proposals being put forward by the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) but it has received glowing feedback in the Care Quality Commission's first hospital survey of children and teenagers.
The national survey sought the views of children and young people who stayed in hospital overnight or were seen as a day patient.
Dorset County Hospital’s results were within or above the national average in all areas, with some areas among the best performing trusts in the country.
Particular areas where the hospital excelled including having appropriate equipment or adaptations for children on Kingfisher Ward and having appropriate things for children to play.
Hospital staff were also rated highly for how well they explained plans of care to children and their families.
Dr Will Ward, consultant paediatrician and divisional director for family services at Dorset County Hospital, said: “We are really pleased to see such a positive response from the children and families that we care for.
“To do so well right across the whole survey shows that all our staff teams put the needs of children and their families at the heart of everything they do. We are really proud of the services we provide.”
To view the full results click here.

Dorset Echo:

NAOMI Patterson, one of the campaigners behind the efforts to protect children's services at Dorset County Hospital, said they would keep the pressure on the CCG.
Following a meeting of their own with the CCG, the campaigners are now focussing on trying to get as many people as possible involved in the public consultation process and will keep up their calls to keep paediatric services in Dorchester.
Naomi said: "We are going to make sure the public know about the consultation because we need everybody's views."
She added that the campaigners were also not totally convinced by the CCG's claims that the SCBU would be unaffected as they were concerned about the knock-on impact of transferring children's services and changes to maternity cover at night could have on the unit.