Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust is not doing enough to prepare for future patient influxes despite record numbers of admissions, campaigners have claimed.

Epsom and St Helier hospitals admitted more than 896,230 patients for treated treatment last year, 11,000 more than in 2014.

There were 146,842 urgent cases in accident and emergency departments with 31,270 of those coming by ambulance.

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Dave Ash, a founding member of Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH), said the NHS trust "needs to be demanding more money" to cope with future pressures.

He said: “Let’s not forget that early 2015 saw a massive increase in A&E attendances over the winter period, for which the tariff paid to trusts actually decreases per patient, once a certain number of patients have been seen.

“Essentially, this means that the hospital is being financially punished for treating 'too many' people.

“The local clinical commissioning group and the trust's own projections foresee an increase in demand, by 2020 which will require an extra 300 beds in addition to the existing 1,200 or so in order to maintain current capacity.

“The trust needs to be demanding more money from the Government to cope with this.”

Trust chief executive Daniel Elkeles said the trust has recruited 303 nurses since April 2015 to keep up with the rise in patient numbers.

He added: “We are really proud of the work we do – our staff and volunteers are dedicated to making sure that our patients are well cared for and their friends and family are supported.

“With such high demand for our services, I am delighted to say that the hard work is paying off.

“I would like to thank all of our staff and volunteers for their hard work during the course of the past 12 months – despite the high number of patients using our services; their commitment to the cause has ensured we can continue to provide high quality, compassionate care.

“We’re here to serve the community – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and will do whatever we have to in order to keep up with demand.

“Although 2015 was a very busy year, we’re expecting to see a further increase in the number of patients coming to us this year, and look forward to the challenge.

Figures published by the Royal College of Nursing this month showed there were 399 empty nursing posts at the trust last summer, a vacancy rate of 22 per cent.

Last month the hospitals ran out of beds for a day as a winter vomiting bug hit and in the same week – on three occasions – the trust only had one bed available for patients in adult social care.

In November a Care Quality Commission report found a number of concerns in the way the hospitals critical care units were run, including reports of inappropriate behaviour from staff.

The trust was forced to draft in help from neighbouring St George’s Hospital in Tooting to improve its service.

A report from St George’s is expected at the Epsom and St Helier NHS trust board meeting on February 12.