Campaigners are preparing to take the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group to judicial review over alleged unlawful decisions on the county’s healthcare. 

Dorchester campaigners have joined forces with groups across the county to challenge the final decisions which followed the CCG’s Clinical Services Review. 

Together, the ‘Keep Kingfisher and maternity unit at DCH a 24/7 consultation led unit’ group, Keep Our NHS Public Dorset and Swanage Labour have raised an initial £1,500 for solicitors to explore if the case has merit. 

In September, health bosses unanimously agreed that paediatric and maternity services in west Dorset would be shared between DCH and Yeovil District Hospital, but the decision on which will house the 24/7 unit is yet to be decided.

It was also decided to close several community hospitals and transfer Poole’s maternity and A&E facilities to Bournemouth, which will become the main emergency department. 

Campaigners feel decisions made by Dorset CCG following the almost £100,000 consultation will cost lives because of the greater travel distances involved.

Dorset CCG received 18,500 questionnaires responses from participants across the county. 

However, campaigners highlight that 75,570 people the signed petitions against the cuts.

In April, independent watchdog Healthwatch Dorset criticised Dorset CCG, saying many residents failed to make their voices heard because they gave up filling in the 48-page questionnaire.

Campaigner Claudia Sorin, who works in a Weymouth school, said: “The judicial review will consider how the consultation was conducted and all the subsequent decisions which were made by the CCG on September 20.

“We have now sent all the information to the solicitors, who will review it and see if the case has merit. 

“If, so we will start fundraising for stage two, which will be taking the CCG to court, although this is very expensive.”
If it is found they have a case, around £20,000 will need to be raised to cover the legal costs. 

Another consultation process is expected before a final decision is made on whether Yeovil or Dorchester will retain the 24-hour services. 
Ms Sorin said: “In the meantime, we want people to be aware of what is happening and keep the petition running and public support behind us.

“We are being put in this position by the CCG and government funding cuts across the NHS- it is a real problem in our area.”

A spokesman for NHS Dorset CCG said: The CCG has been in contact with the Kingfisher Ward campaigners throughout the Clinical Services Review and we are keen to continue to engage with them to understand their concerns.

“It may be helpful to remember that talks are continuing to take place regarding the future of consultant-led maternity and paediatric services in the west of Dorset and South Somerset and there will be further public consultation, in partnership with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group before any final decisions are made.”

Dorset Echo:

Residents and campaigners have lobbied county councillors to refer the healthcare shake-up decision for an official government review.

Yesterday, Dorset County Council’s health scrutiny committee unanimously voted to refer the CCG’s plans to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt for an independent review, pending a meeting of the joint health committee in December.

Members of the public spoke out during the meeting to voice their fears over the planned closure of Poole Hospital’s A&E and maternity departments, and the effect it would have on people travelling from areas such as Purbeck.

Debby Monkhouse, a Swanage resident who has campaigned against the decision, said: “When I moved to Dorset I thought the length of the journey from Swanage to Poole was just about acceptable in an emergency.

“I bought a nebuliser that I could take en route to try to stabilise myself. I am very worried about the travel time to Bournemouth in an emergency.

“I don’t only speak for myself, but for the over 8,000 Purbeck residents who were worried enough about this issue to sign a petition.”

Cllr Ros Kayes, member of the health scrutiny committee and who proposed the idea, said: “It’s clear that while an upgraded Bournemouth hospital will benefit some people at the east of the county, the other proposals and their impact on rural areas as well as on the people of Poole show that there needs to be much more work done.”

Concerns over the planned closure of acute beds across the county were also raised during the meeting.

The health scrutiny committee hopes that the decision will be supported by DCC’s joint health scrutiny committee who will meet next month.

Chairman of the committee Cllr Bill Pipe said: “The referral is being made as we have concerns about travel times, reductions in hospital bed provision, reduction in Accident and Emergency services at Poole Hospital and that an insufficient Equalities Impact Assessment has been carried out.

“Members also felt that there has been a lack of integration with the ambulance service and there wasn’t a clear financial plan in place.

“If the matter is referred, the Secretary of State may ask for advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), who will make an initial assessment.

“Not all referrals to the Secretary of State will automatically be reviewed in full by the IRP – this is at the Secretary of State’s discretion.”