Our Response to Dorset NHS Clinical Services Review
We are not opposing change just for the sake of it and we are well aware that the NHS is under great pressure and needs to make changes.
However, we believe the proposed changes will result in more difficult access to health services, especially for those in rural areas and that there are serious flaws in the Clinical Services Review:
- the assessment of travel times is underestimated and not based on real life examples
- the current state of the ambulance service and its failure to meet targets is not addressed
- some disadvantaged groups will be unfairly impacted
- there is not enough evidence that the “integrated community” models proposed would provide better outcomes for patients or be more cost effective
- GPs and NHS workers and councillors have not been properly engaged with or consulted about the changes
The CSR is part of the government's five- year plan to make £22 billion of "efficiency savings." There may be some good, innovative ideas contained in the Dorset CSR but these will not be successful without the necessary funding. Reliance on community and voluntary organisations to provide care in the community is part of the strategy, as is use of private care home beds. It involves expanding the costly internal market and increasing contracts to private companies. This is a political and ideological agenda which the Labour Party opposes and which we believe will cause irrevocable damage to the NHS, ultimately leading to a two-tier system. Furthermore, the £4.9 million cut to social care funding over the past 5 years has created impossible pressure on NHS services.
The proposals to close A&E in Poole and to centralise maternity and children’s services in Bournemouth in order to improve patient outcomes, are not backed up by evidence. Studies have shown that, whilst it is true that certain types of specialist health care have better patient outcomes when centralised, this is not the case for general health care; ease of access and shorter travel distances are more important. In an emergency, quick access to treatment within the “golden hour” is crucial. We believe that these factors have been overlooked in the CSR.
The problems cited in relation to difficulty in recruiting doctors and nurses can only be addressed if the following steps are taken: increase funding and integrate health and social care; reinstate the bursary for student nurses; have a fair pay settlement for NHS workers, reduce the heavy administrative burden that has been imposed on GPs; and ensure that Britain and the NHS continues to welcome and support workers from other countries.