POOR ambulance response times and concerns over the future of Poole A&E continue to worry Dorset residents in the more remote parts of the county.

County councillors used their last meeting to complain about plans to take the most critical cases to Bournemouth hospital and gave several examples of slow ambulance responses to emergency calls.

Weymouth councillor and GP Jon Orrell said he had dealt with several cases in recent months where response times to an emergency call from him resulted in waits of between and hour and three hours.

The council also heard of a woman who fell in Swanage at 10am and was not picked up by an ambulance until 2am.

Cllr Beryl Ezzard said it was unacceptable that it had taken more than six months to get a response about changes to A&E services locally from the Secretary of State.

“How can we get some answers…lots of local people are very concerned about this and want an answer,” she said.

Cllr Jill Haynes said there has been a lot of misinformation about what was happening which had unsettled people. She said there would still be an A&E at Poole offering treatment to the majority of people who, typically, were able to get themselves to the department.

“And that will continue on a 24-hour a day basis, but urgent emergencies, depending on what they are, will go to Bournemouth,” she said.

Dorchester A&E would be in a similar situation.

Weymouth councillor Kate Wheller said that with slow ambulance response time and then a potential long drive, those who live in more remote parts of the county would stand less chance of survival.

“It’s what the TV adverts tell us – that time is of the essence” she said.

Swanage councillor Bill Trite said he feared for those needing treatment in Purbeck and other remote parts of the county were being doubly disadvantaged with ambulances slow to get to calls and then, depending on the case, taking longer to get to hospital if they had to travel to Bournemouth, especially in the summer.

He told the council of a lady who collapsed in Swanage around 10am and was not picked up by an ambulance until 2am.

“You can understand the concern people have. There hasn’t been a satisfactory answer, probably because there isn’t a satisfactory answer we can be given,” he said.

Dr Orrell said he could understand why the NHS managers wanted to create specialist centres: “It’s good for the NHS but not for our residents in Purbeck, Portland and West Dorset,” he said, “The NHS has many qualities but it lacks effective democratic control.”