AMM 2023 questions from the public

AMM 2023 questions and responses

Are community hospitals being used to the best effect?

Answered by Kris Dominy, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive

We are committed to making the best use of our community hospitals and we know they are highly valued by local people. As well as running the inpatient wards, we provide a range of outpatient clinics in the hospitals, for example in physiotherapy. We are also using space in our hospitals for activity like vaccination programmes. The hospitals are also bases for community visiting services which support people in their own homes. We are always looking for opportunities to maximise the use of our hospitals and continue to work with our partners, including the voluntary and community sector, to make the most of our facilities.

Can the Trust tell us what tangible benefits to patient care have been achieved for the people of Dorset as a direct result of collaboration with Dorset County Hospital, or is this simply a means to save money and eventually merge the two trusts?

Answered by Prof Dawn Dawson, Chief Nursing Officer

The collaboration with Dorset County Hospital has followed 4 phases:

  • During Phase 1 – from March 2022 until December 2022 – the Trust reached the decision to work together and to appoint a Joint Chief Executive Officer and a Joint Chair
  • Next during Phase 2 – from January 2023 until April 2023 - the Working Together Programme was established
  • Then between May 2023 and September 2023 two significant clinical workstreams were commenced:
  1. The first workstream was to establish 4 long term transformational flagships programmes.  These have been established and are looking at diabetes, frailty, avoiding admission into hospital and improving the care of CYP with mental health needs or learning disabilities. 
  2. The second workstream was to establish some near term case studies which were able to show the benefits that could be achieved by working together.

In September we undertook an evaluation of the first year of the programme to see what had been achieved. The results showed that:

  • All of the flagship programmes had been commenced and were progressing with the development of new ways of providing care to our population. By their very nature these are longer term changes so none of the programmes are yet completed. However, I am delighted that we are in the position of being able to trial some of the new clinical models over the coming months and will be carefully monitored the outcomes for people who use these services.
  • Secondly, we have 7 case studies in place and our patients are already seeing the benefits of these. In the interest of time, I will share details of 3 of these projects and the benefits they bring.
  • In the first an automated alert system has been developed which notifies Dorset County Hospital and the community Learning Disabilities team if a patient attending for care has a learning disability. This allows the two clinical teams to work together with the patient to ensure any reasonable adjustments are made to facilitate care, As a result of this patients have reported an improved experience, the number of patients who did not attend appointments outpatient appointments has reduced and when a patient has needed to be admitted their length of stay has reduced.
  • A second case study has resulted in the establishment of a Joint Research Hub based in Weymouth. This joint project has opened up access to new treatments such as covid vaccination trials to the local population who previously would not have been able to access this type of care.
  • A third case study has enabled the pulmonary rehabilitation teams from both organisations to develop a 6-week tailored programme of physical education and exercise to people living with lung disease. The programme is available in 7 locations. Working together has reduced the time people spend on the waiting list and people using the service have reported improvements in their quality-of-life post treatment.

Our collaboration is in its infancy but through these case studies we are already able to demonstrate some early improvements in the care we can deliver.

To cope with the large increase in the population of Wimborne are there any plans for more doctors?

 Answered by Prof Faisil Sethi, Chief Medical Officer

Compared to Dorset and national averages, the area of the Wimborne and Ferndown PCN has a lower proportion of people aged under 18, and a higher proportion of people over 65. The projected increase in population in Dorset over the coming years is driven by the increase in the population aged over 65. 

We need all sorts of doctors in our NHS services, GPs in primary care, physicians and psychiatrists in Dorset HealthCare and our acute hospitals. In the NHS we have over ten thousand medical vacancies, and over forty thousand nursing vacancies, and this is a problem that has been around for many years, before the pandemic. GP practices across the country are also experiencing growing strain with declining GP numbers, rising demand, struggles to recruit and retain staff. We’re seeing trends with staff feeling more stressed, a more ageing medical workforce, who are taking earlier retirement. 

In Dorset HealthCare, we are really focussed on developing our locally trained doctors, these are the GPs and the Consultants of the future. As a Trust, we are also looking to create more roles for GPs in our services, either as GPs in training or experienced GPs with an area of special interest. We’re also ensuring our recruitment drives are national; and we are looking at international options as well, to widen our net. 

Having said all of that, there are many healthcare professionals that make up the NHS and we provide care in multidisciplinary teams. In the Trust we have really good experience of developing non-medical clinicians (for example nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists and psychologists), and they already perform key roles in our clinical teams. We are looking to develop these professional disciplines further in the coming years. 

Annual Members' Meeting (AMM)