CAMPAIGNERS are delighted with plans that could see west Dorset retain hospital services following a major public campaign organised by Naomi Patterson, whose son requires regular hospital visits at Dorset County Hospital's Kingfisher Ward. The campaign is widely supported by the public backed by Dorset Socialists, Dorset Branch CPB, Dorset Peoples Assembly,Dorset Green Party and the Echo.

It comes after health chiefs revealed their recommendations for the biggest shake-up of services in a generation after months of campaigning and consultation.

Recommendations were made a week ahead of a meeting where the NHS Dorset CCG governing body will meet to make final decisions on its controversial Clinical Services Review which aims to plug a £158 million projected deficit by 2020.

Dorset County Hospital will remain as both an emergency and planned site with health bosses conceding a maternity and paediatrics unit should now remain for patients in the west of the county.

It comes following a successful campaign to Save Kingfisher Ward with new options to be considered by both the Dorchester-based hospital and Yeovil District Hospital under new proposals which will go out for a second public consultation. This is instead of a move of centralising services in the east of the county.

Delighted hospital campaigner Naomi Patterson said: “This is great news and shows the CCG recognises what we have been saying.

“Our campaign aimed to demonstrate that it was vital to have paediatric-led services in the west of the county and I am massively proud they have listened to us. If it wasn’t for our campaign group teaming up with the Dorset Echo to highlight this issue we would be seeing services going to the east.”

She added: “We now want to know what will happen with options for Yeovil and DCH. I’d like to see people get together to have the best possible outcome for everyone.”

Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) is still the preferred major emergency centre which would leave Poole Hospital with no A&E but a 24/7 urgent care centre. This would mean Poole’s maternity and paediatric services would move to RBH.

Dorset CCG chief officer Tim Goodson said: “We think this will secure a great future for all three of our acute hospitals. There will remain 24/7 urgent care facilities on all three. We did some further travel analysis but should emphasise we are trying to promote less travel to the acute sites by doing more in the community hubs by creating more alternatives to urgent care and extending GP access as well.

“We are very confident this is the right course action to take. We think it will save lives and create better outcomes.”

Many beds have been saved in community hospitals due to successful campaigns including at Westhaven Hospital in Weymouth until ‘a sustainable model for future services’ is established.

Other community hubs with beds are set to be located at Weymouth Hospital as well as Bridport, Swanage and Sherborne.

Community care hubs without beds are set for Portland.

Despite opposition, recommendations remain to close Alderney Hospital in Poole and St Leonards Hospital in Ferndown, which means that campaigners for keeping all our NHS services will still be active. 

This is an edited version of an article published in the Dorset Echo, Thursday 14th September 2017



The party is forcing the Conservatives onto weak ground and sending a clear message to nurses, civil servants, firefighters, paramedics and others that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is on their side.

It forces Tory MPs in marginal seats — and there are a lot more of them than there were a few months ago — to consider whether their loyalty to a lame duck Prime Minister is worth the risk of stamping on the aspirations of public servants in their constituencies.

Corbyn and McDonnell have shown that it is possible to set the political agenda by focusing relentlessly on ordinary people’s concerns — poverty pay, rubbish jobs and the cost of living — and that by doing so Labour’s message can reach audiences the political class had long written off.

Angry rhetoric at Westminster would be just that were it not backed up by Labour’s consistent record of standing by workers taking industrial action, shown most recently in the party’s full-throated support for the McDonald’s staff who walked out at the start of the month and the bin workers back on strike because of Birmingham council’s failure to keep its promises.

What a contrast to the patronising, backward-looking drivel we were treated to by another former party leader on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday.

Unabashed by the fact that the Middle East is still burning 14 years after he helped a US president set it alight, or by the growing frequency of terror attacks on Britain itself as a result of the huge boost his wars gave to al-Qaida and its Islamic State offshoot, Blair still feels he can lecture the nation on its choices — while hinting he has been doing some unofficial negotiating of his own with key EU power brokers on our behalf.

The left should be absolutely clear that Blair’s proposals on Brexit amount to the worst of both worlds.

Whatever divisions there were over how to vote in the EU referendum last year, a decision was taken to leave and we are now in negotiations with Brussels about what that will mean.

For the left goals must include lifting the limits on public ownership outlined in the Lisbon Treaty and removing those aspects of competition law which prevent strategic investment in industry or the freedom to use public procurement to advance social and environmental goals.

They must entail Britain’s removal from European Court of Justice jurisdiction, given that court’s rulings in favour of bosses and against workers’ right to take industrial action.

What Blair proposes instead is that we strap ourselves in to the straitjacket of EU economic diktats in return for pandering to xenophobic sentiment — shared, he happily assures us, by many in France and Germany — and cutting access to benefits for immigrants.

This nightmare proposal would merely entrench a two-tier workforce in which non-citizens are unable to stand up for their rights and the terms and conditions of all workers are steadily eroded by a race to the bottom.

It would keep in place all the obstacles to implementing Labour’s overwhelmingly popular manifesto that exist in EU law.

As McDonnell retorts, if Blair thinks this would satisfy the aspirations of the public he has not been listening to the debate “in the pubs, the clubs and at the school gates.”

Delegates at this week’s TUC will discuss whether and how a Brexit that advances working people’s rights can be secured. They can be sure that Blair’s proposals have nothing to offer in that regard.


This article appeared in The Morning Star, Monday 11th September 2017