A WAR of words has broken out between BCP Labour Party and the area's two main hospitals over the £147 million government investment which will see new services created at both establishments.

Labour Group Leader George Farquhar said: “The hospital has implied that if the public sign a petition this will bring £147 million investment for Poole and Bournemouth Hospitals. It has not been made clear that signing the petition means supporting changes to the hospital buildings that would see the end of A&E, maternity and paediatric services at Poole and there is in any case absolutely no evidence that this money is linked to public approval of the plans.

"This is misleading the public at a time when we are still awaiting the outcome of an independent inquiry asked by the Secretary of State to consider the changes, including the impact of increased travel times on clinical risk in emergency.”

He admitted Labour: "Has been encouraging its supporters to oppose the planning application on a series of grounds. These include increased traffic congestion at a site where access will be critical to care, inadequate car parking, and the lack of a proper travel plan."

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Bournemouth West, David Stokes, said: "We know that around 200 comments have been received in relation to plans that propose demolition of parts of the RBH and construction of a new Emergency Department and Maternity Care Centre, and that 426 objections were raised on the sister plans for Poole Hospital. There is considerable concern regarding these proposals because of the impact on the local area and for residents."

However the hospital trusts hit back. "Without planning permission, the trusts will not be able to secure the £147m, and will not be able to progress the wider transformation programme,” said a spokesman.

“The two trusts have recently submitted their case for planning permission, to carry out the essential building work that is needed to take forwards the Dorset system transformation plan which has been widely shared and discussed with the public.

"The creation of a major emergency hospital and a major planned care hospital – supported by a significant expansion in prevention and services in the community – will result in significant benefits for patients and staff alike, and is a priority for both organisations. As such, we have been encouraging staff to demonstrate their support for these plans."

The deadline for comments closes on August 30.