DORSET County Hospital has said it is working as "maximum capacity" after figures showed it was missing targets for waiting times in accident and emergency.

The figures released for February show that at Dorset County Hospital of 3,387 emergency admissions in the month 91 per cent of patients were waiting less then four hours to be admitted, transferred or discharged.

NHS England requires that 95 per cent of accident and emergency patients be either admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival, however the February figures saw the national average at 87.8 per cent - the lowest since monthly data became available in August 2010.

Dorset County Hospital’s chief operating officer Julie Pearce said the staff had faced a "challenging" period over the winter due to high demand and delayed discharges and the hospital was doing all it can to bring the waiting times down.

She said: "We have faced a very challenging winter with high numbers of patients being admitted through our emergency department and increases in delayed discharges.

"This meant we were operating at maximum capacity for a prolonged period with all our escalation beds open.

"Our staff have worked extremely hard to ensure we can cope with the demand and keep our patients safe.

"Without them going the extra mile every day we simply couldn’t have done it. We are very lucky to have such a dedicated workforce.

"We have been working closely with our colleagues in social care and community services to minimise delays in transferring patient care and we are committed to strengthening community care available locally to relieve pressure on acute hospitals."

The figures released by NHS England show that only five of 138 trusts with full accident and emergency departments are met the 95 per cent the standard nationwide in February with the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Poole Hospital also below the mark.

Also, all three Dorset trusts had patients waiting more than four hours between the decision being made to admit them and their actual admission.

There were 17 patients at Dorset County Hospital, 108 at Bournemouth and 225 at Poole.