POOLE Hospital's accident and emergency department is set close in 2026 – two years after its larger replacement facility opens at Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Work is underway at the site off Castle Lane East on the BEACH Building (Births, Emergency care, And, Critical care and child Health).

The existing emergency department (ED) at Royal Bournemouth Hospital is set to move into the new building in autumn 2024.

As a result, Poole Hospital A&E will close in late 2026, based on current schedules.

BCP Council's health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee was told the new Royal Bournemouth Hospital emergency department would be bigger than the combined size of the existing departments at both hospitals.

As part of the clinical services review, Poole Hospital will become the major planned care hospital for east Dorset and Royal Bournemouth Hospital the major emergency care hospital.

Bournemouth Echo: Artist impression of the BEACH building at Royal Bournemouth HospitalArtist impression of the BEACH building at Royal Bournemouth Hospital

This will see the accident and emergency department at the Longfleet Road site close. It will instead have a new urgent treatment centre and 14 theatres to help reduce waiting times and prevent cancelled operations for patients requiring planned care.

At the committee meeting on March 7, Liberal Democrat and Canford Heath ward councillor Sandra Moore asked University Hospitals Dorset chief Steve Killen when Poole's A&E would be closing.

“In October 2024, the Emergency Department (ED) for Bournemouth will move into the new (BEACH) building and will have an ED that is significantly larger than both our current Poole and Bournemouth EDs put together," said Mr Killen. 

"At that time, we will maintain Poole for another two years as a consultant-led ED and after that we will continue to have an Urgent Treatment Centre 24/7 as per the clinical services review. 

"As I have said to friends and colleagues, I live in Poole, so for the majority of things, like my children being injured playing football at Whitecliff or whatever, I will still continue to take them to that Poole service." 

The shake-up of hospital services, which was led by Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), also includes closing five of 13 community hospitals across Dorset – including sites in Wareham and in St Leonard’s.

Bournemouth Echo: Guests attend a groundbreaking event at Royal Bournemouth HospitalGuests attend a groundbreaking event at Royal Bournemouth Hospital

Dorset CCG said the reorganisation will ultimately save lives, and will see a £147m investment in acute hospital services.

Health bosses had to overcome a legal challenge by a campaign group. This culminated in a judicial review in the High Court in 2018, which sided with Dorset CCG.