41. Dorset

What does the STP mean for your area?

Health planners are trying to reduce NHS deficits and think about ways to re-organise care. However, getting the large deficits under control could prevent facilities being developed that can cope with the health and care social needs of local people.

The STP plans a major reorganisation of Dorset's acute sector.

Proposed cuts

Closure of the A&E, maternity and paediatric services at Poole Hospital and the relocation of services to a new purpose built unit at the major emergency hub at Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

The merger of specialist teams for key clinical areas such as a single cancer service and a single cardiac service that will provide care for the county rather than the existing separate teams on each site.

A cut in the number of community hospitals from 13 to just seven 'community hubs' with beds and a further five 'community hubs' without beds in a plan to create a more 'integrated community service' model so people are treated closer to home.

There are concerns that the number of GP surgeries will be cut under the plans.

Changes in who organises our care

Dorset has been designated an accountable care system by NHS England. This new model of care is designed to integrate hospital, community and primary care more fully.

What are the proposed aims of the STP?

  • To eliminate the projected deficit of £158 million by 2020.
  • To reorganize primary care services into larger groupings.
  • To reconfigure community hospitals to provide more integrated services at scale.
  • To reconfigure the three acute hospitals in order to deliver the highest quality of emergency and planned care.

Further information


The Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) is to be designated as the county’s major emergency hospital leaving Poole Hospital for planned care. Meanwhile Dorset County Hospital would remain both a planned and emergency care hospital with changes to its maternity and paediatric services under discussion.

No preferred option has been set out for the future of paediatric services and maternity services at Dorset County Hospital, with ongoing discussions taking place between the Dorchester hospital and Yeovil District Hospital regarding the possible integration of services.

The STP proposals include:

  • Dorset County Hospital would continue to provide surgical treatment and chemotherapy with the addition of radiotherapy.
  • Poole Hospital as the major elective care hospital would provide low risk treatment for cancer patients including surgery and chemotherapy.
  • Royal Bournemouth Hospital, proposed as the major emergency hospital, would provide emergency and critical care. This will include stem cell transplants and more complicated haematological procedures, provision of an acute oncology assessment unit and service and high risk cancer surgery.

Community Care

The STP proposes ‘integrated teams' to 'deliver more and better services from a fewer number of sites than the 13 community hospitals with beds and 135 primary care sites that currently operate across Dorset.’ These 135 sites include 98 GP practices, leading to concerns that the number of GP surgeries will be reduced.

Dorset CCG says it wants 100,000 patients a year to be treated closer to home rather than in hospital, particularly elderly people with chronic conditions 'who can be safely managed in the community.'

Community hospitals at Alderney, Westhaven and St Leonards face closure as services there would move to other 'community hubs.' Community hubs with beds would be located at Poole, Wimborne, Bridport, Blandford, Sherborne, Swanage and Weymouth.

Community hubs without beds would be at Shaftesbury, Christchurch, Dorset County Hospital, Portland and Wareham.

However, the STP recommends that alternative sites for community hubs without beds are found for the Shaftesbury, Portland and Wareham sites. If these are found, these community hospitals will close.


Campaigners fear that the planned closures at Poole Hospital will put lives at risk as traffic conditions can be very poor, especially during the summer holiday season.

By mid-January 2017 a petition against the closure of Poole A&E had reached 20,000 signatures.

Campaigners have also noted that the consultation running on the planned changes in the STP is very complicated and requires in-depth knowledge of current services.