PLANNED changes to Yeovil’s stroke services could be overturned by the health secretary following an intervention by a local councillor and parliamentary candidate.

The NHS Somerset Integrated Card Board (ICB) approved proposals in late-January to remove hyper-acute stroke services from Yeovil Hospital, meaning the most critical stroke patients would need to be transported to Taunton or Dorchester for treatment.

The board met in Yeovil on Thursday afternoon (March 28) to approve the final business case for the proposals, which are expected to be implemented by May 2025.

But the changes could now be stopped in their tracks after local councillor Adam Dance – who is hoping to be Yeovil’s next MP – asked the health secretary Veronica Atkins MP to review the decision.

Stroke services are categorised by the NHS into two camps – hyper-acute (where emergency treatment is required within the first 72 hours) and acute (where the stroke is less life-threatening).

Under the agreed proposals – which prompted a significant backlash from local residents – Yeovil will keep its acute stroke unit, but patients needing hyper-acute services will be transported to either Dorset County Hospital or Musgrove Park Hospital, whichever is nearer.

Implementing the changes is expected to cost around £4m out of the county’s health revenue budget (i.e. day-to-day spending) – including £1.9m for additional staffing at pay at Musgrove Park Hospital and £1.8m for similar costs at Dorset County Hospital.

Chard & Ilminster News: Cllr Adam Dance.Cllr Adam Dance. (Image: Yeovil Liberal Democrats)

Around £1.8m of capital funding will be provided to ensure Dorset County Hospital has sufficient capacity for the additional patients.

Adam Dance, the Liberal Democrat’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Yeovil, currently serves as a Yeovil Hospital governor and recently met with staff to discuss the implications of the planned changes.

Mr Dance, who represents the South Petherton and Islemoor division on Somerset Council (and serves as its portfolio holder for public health, equality and diversity), has now written to the health secretary to ask her to call in the board’s decision.

He said: “I am not happy that the people of Yeovil and the surrounding areas will have reduced access to emergency acute stroke treatment when needed.

“I believe the decision to close the hyper-acute stroke unit in Yeovil is not the right way to go. I have asked the secretary of state to review the decision and ensure the unit stays open.

“I am surprised that our current MP has yet to comment on this matter. He has been aware of the issues surrounding this decision for many months.

“Surely he cannot defend a decision which will mean that those in his constituency will have less chance of vital early treatment which can make such a difference to someone suffering a stroke?

“As MP for Yeovil I would leave no stone unturned in seeking a reversal of this decision.”

Marcus Fysh – who has served as Conservative MP for Yeovil since 2015 – has been approached for comment by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.