A DORCHESTER campaigner says he has not been re-assured about the County Hospital’s future – especially over children’s services and maternity.

Barry Tempest says both services were not mentioned in the reply to a formal question he asked at the Dorset Council health scrutiny committee.

Mr Tempest says he is concerned that the hospital’s expansion plans appear not to be fully funded – and is calling on the authorities to say when and where the money will come from.

In his question he says that changes announced earlier this month to hospitals in Bournemouth and Poole are likely to lead to increased demand at Dorchester, especially for accident and emergency, maternity and paediatric services, notably from the Purbeck area where many people may choose to come to Dorchester rather than make the journey to Bournemouth hospital.

Mr Tempest says that, at the same time as there is likely to be an increase in demand the Dorset County Hospital’s accident and emergency department is already operating at 200 per cent of its planned capacity.

“DCH has some plans for expansion, but no funding except for car parking. All current local hospital capital funding is directed in the eastern conurbation…without expansion, not only will local health services suffer directly, but DCH, a comparatively small hospital, will inevitably struggle to retain appropriate qualified medical and support staff,” said Mr Tempest.

He asked the committee what it was doing, in conjunction with the commissioners, to pressure the Government for “a swift allocation of funds to DCH for expansion of the A&E, acute care, maternity and paediatrics.”

The reply, from the hospital, said that it and the clinical commissioning group, were committed to ensuring that the hospital has the right level of investment now and into the future to continue to provide high quality services.

“The clinical commissioning group (CCG) is clear that the investment into the emergency department, intensive care unit and Hub at DCH is one of the top priorities for capital investment in Dorset. DCH is working to secure a share of the Health Infrastructure Plan funding announced by the Government in late 2019 and the CCG is clear that any funding secured for Dorset will be prioritised for the long-term project to expand the DCH emergency department, intensive care unit and Hub…in the meantime DCH continues to develop short and medium term solutions to alleviate the pressures being faced by the emergency department.”