POOLE People Party leader Mark Howell has written to the health secretary expressing concerns over contentious plans to transfer A&E services from Poole Hospital.

Cllr Howell, who represents the town centre ward at Borough of Poole, wants Secretary of State Matt Hancock to review the countywide shake-up of NHS services.

Dorset County Council's health scrutiny committee made the referral, but BOP declined to follow suit, instead voting to refer the matter to its own health and social care committee, which will consider the matter on December 17.

Bournemouth Council's health scrutiny committee has already agreed to send a letter to Mr Hancock, arguing the planned shake-up would have 'great benefits' for residents.

However, Cllr Howell, writing on behalf of Poole People, told the health secretary: "We are particularly concerned about the proposed transfer of the A&E service from Poole Hospital to Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

"The journey times across the Bournemouth/Poole conurbation are heavily affected by congestion at all times of the year, but strongly influenced in summer by holidaymakers including many day-trippers from as far away as London."

The councillor also says a recent ambulance service study which focused on urgent ambulance journey times "did not address the impact of daytime congestion."

According to Cllr Howell, recent figures obtained by campaigners suggested a third of patients with 'certain' life-threatening conditions arrive at hospital by their own means.

He added: "Congestion affects carers and visitors, not just patients, and their interests do not seem to be considered."

Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) revealed the proposals in 2017, as part of a strategy to address a projected £158 million-a-year funding shortfall.

Under the proposals, more specialised hubs would be developed at both Bournemouth and Poole hospitals, with the closure of Poole's A&E and maternity departments in favour of expanded centres in Bournemouth.

Meanwhile, Poole Hospial would become a 'major planned care' centre.