CAMPAIGNERS fighting against health chiefs proposed reforms to NHS services in Dorset have had their legal review quashed.

The judicial review into the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) healthcare shake-up has concluded and all claims brought by Swanage resident Anna Hinsull have been dismissed.

In a case presented to the High Court in London in July, campaign group Defend Dorset NHS alleged the process by which the decision to reorganise services – which included the closure of community beds at Portland Hospital – was made was not correctly adhered to.

Tim Goodson, chief officer of Dorset CCG, said the group hoped the High Court’s decision would “reassure local people that the CCG has acted properly and in the interests of healthcare services in Dorset”.

“The court has confirmed that Dorset CCG has taken into consideration all the matters we were required to consider during the Clinical Services Review (CSR) and consultation processes,” he said.

“The CSR and consultation established that we need to change the way local services are delivered in order to secure better outcomes for patients and affordable healthcare for now and the future.”

He added the judicial review was a “right and proper process” but had involved “considerable cost” to the NHS.

“The High Court decision will now allow the planned improvements to health and care services in Dorset to be implemented without unnecessary delay or additional legal costs.

“We will continue to work closely with our partner NHS and local authority organisations to ensure that the improvements bring about patient benefits and save more lives.”

South Dorset MP Richard Drax said that he shared many of the concerns raised by people who wanted the outcome to go the other way adding that he raised all of their points during the CCGs consultation period.

However, he stressed that it was reassuring to know that the High Court had taken all factors into account.

Under Dorset CCG’s plans, five of 13 community hospitals across Dorset – including one in Wareham will close, as well as Poole’s Accident and Emergency department while 16 beds at Portland Community Hospital have already closed as part of the cuts.

Meanwhile, Weymouth’s Linden Unit, a mental health hospital, will also lose its beds, which will be moved to St Ann’s Hospital in Poole while Poole Hospital’s A&E, maternity and paediatric services will be lost to Royal Bournemouth, which will become the area’s main emergency hospital while Poole will become a centre for planned treatment and operations.

Meanwhile, there will be the creation of extra inpatient beds at St Ann’s Hospital in Poole and Forston Clinic near Dorchester.

The reorganisation is aimed at avoiding a projected funding shortfall, estimated to be at least £158m a year by 2021.

Defend Dorset NHS, who have backed Anna’s legal case, claimed that the plans will leave tens of thousands of Dorset residents and over a million visitors without access to A&E and maternity services within the ‘golden hour’, and will lead to the lives of many patients being put unnecessarily at risk.

However, Dorset CCG says the reorganisation will ultimately save lives, and will see a £147m investment in acute hospital services.

Mr Goodson added: “We will keep local people fully informed about the future shape of services and continue to work with them to develop safe, high-quality services for present and future generations.”

In response to the judgement, the group said:”We’re shocked – we were at the hearing and we witnessed the CCG being unable to respond to the genuine concerns that we raised. 

“This judgement does nothing to address the clinical risk to Dorset residents of having to travel further in an emergency.”

The group now have 21 days to appeal the verdict however they added that they would need to speak to their barrister and consider the health of the claimant which they stressed had got “significantly worse” since the start of the campaign.