HOSPITAL governors say they want to provide reassurance to patients following the news services will relocate from Bridport to Dorchester and Blandford.

Bridport-based elected governors of Dorset County Hospital (DCH) Sarah Carney, David Tett and Gavin Maxwell have said: “We requested a breakdown of the facts, which are that four particular procedures, three of which rely on highly-specialist decontamination units, are being moved to other locations. This is primarily because the equipment needed to clean the instruments is old and in need of replacement and the small number of these procedures carried out at Bridport Hospital do not justify the enormous cost.

“The only procedures affected will be cystoscopy, lithotripsy, gastroscopy and musculoskeletal epidural. No other services will be lost and those patient services, including other pain, physio and outpatient appointments, currently provided at Bridport Hospital, will continue to be provided there.”

"The procedures will be moved to DCH, except for the epidural service which will now take place at Blandford Hospital. DCH’s endoscopy department is stretched to full capacity. Moving the cystoscopy and gastroscopy lists from Bridport to Dorchester will allow internal movement to a new procedure suite which can take on the transferred procedures. This will also allow more colonoscopies to be undertaken overall and have the direct effect of reducing waiting times for cancer diagnosis.

“Likewise, while it is certainly of great concern that patients from Crewkerne, Axminister, Lyme Regis and Bridport will need to travel a lot further for the epidural pain service moving to Blandford, they will be seen and be able to access urgent pain relief more quickly. This is because the low numbers of people attending the service in Bridport Hospital means that theatre lists cannot always be filled and have to be cancelled.

"Other benefits will be robust and resilient decontamination arrangements and an increase in medical/clinical cover for emergency care.

“The move will affect around 1,400 patients per year, most of whom need to access these services once or a couple of times for a diagnosis or urgent pain relief.”

The governors have, however, raised concern about transport.

“While we are satisfied that the grounds for moving these services are reasonable and justified - in terms of number of patients affected, safety and cost - we remain extremely concerned about the transport implications.

“We are worried that some patients, particularly vulnerable patients, will fall through the gaps left by a defective bus service, parking problems, a patient transport system with too-stringent rules and eligibility criteria, and other voluntary services that are only ad hoc. However, this is a major problem that applies to all patients accessing all hospital and medical services across west Dorset and we would like to see a comprehensive review of all transport access for patients, relatives and staff.

“We aim to ensure the needs and views of patients are promoted as we take this issue forward.”