THE number of people visiting the A&E department at Poole Hospital in August rose by seven per cent from to last year.

Increasing demand for emergency care has put pressure on the trust which runs the hospital and longer waiting times could see it miss out on extra funding.

Last month, the hospital had its busiest A&E Saturday on record with 235 people attending and 77 ambulances transporting patients for care.

Despite this, health chiefs are planning to close the emergency department as part of the hospital’s planned merger with Royal Bournemouth.

A judicial review challenging the shake-up of NHS services across Dorset failed last month although campaign group Defend Dorset NHS has lodged a request to appeal the decision.

So far this year, an average of about 200 people a day are visiting the department, putting pressure on the trust’s ability to meet national targets.

Poole Hospital fell short of the benchmark of having 95 per cent of people being seen within four hours in August which has left it at risk of missing out on additional funding.

Speaking at last week’s meeting of the trust’s board, its chief operating officer, Mark Mould, said: “It’s important that we recognise that the most challenging part of the work at Poole Hospital is its emergency care.

“A&E attendances were up by seven per cent a day in August and that is adding to the pressure.”

“We are not meeting the A&E standard of 95 per cent which means we could fall short of achieving the funding but there is still a chance if the Dorset-wide system hits its target.”

Despite being unlikely to have hit the 95 per cent target by the end of September, which is the end of the second quarter of the financial year, if the figure across the county is 93.8 per cent then Poole Hospital will still receive the funding.

If the target is met, then the trust will receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in additional money through the Department of Health’s £1.8bn sustainability and transformation fund.