THE suspension of the Sandbanks Ferry won't lead to problems for ambulances, paramedics have reassured residents.

As reported, the ferry will be out of action until at least August 12 after serious mechanical problems were found.

The withdrawal of the service comes just days before the school summer holidays begin.

Studland parish council vice chairman Nick Boulter said he feared the closure could result in lives being lost.

"At the moment, the ambulances often come across on the ferry," he said.

"Now the ambulances will all have to come via Sandford. That's a journey that can take 90 minutes in bad traffic from the big hospitals.

"Even on blue lights, it's going to be a longer journey, which is very worrying when you're talking about people who are critically injured or ill.

"It might mean fatalities."

However, representatives from the South Western Ambulance Service said paramedics "do not anticipate" a big impact on journey times.

“We are aware of the planned suspension of Sandbanks Ferry during August, and do not anticipate it will have a significant impact on our service to patients in the area," the spokesperson said.

"As the ferry does not operate at night, we are very familiar with the alternative route, which in practise does not take much longer even during the daytime.

"We will have additional resources available from next week, which should lessen the impact further.

“We deal with transport closures on a regular basis, either due to planned works or collisions, and always aim to keep the impact to a minimum.

"We always send our nearest available resource to a patient in a life-threatening condition, using the best available route.”

Ferry operators have taken the "costly" decision to tow the vessel to a repair facility in Southampton.

In a statement, they said: "We sincerely apologise to all our valued customers for this inconvenience, but can only assure you that we are working as hard as we can to return the ferry to full service as soon as possible."