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Updated 14 March 2023

21 October 2022

Health organisations in Dorset have secured £13m to transform two floors of South Walks House in Dorchester into clinical space.

Dorset County Hospital (DCH) has been running an Outpatient Assessment Centre on one floor of the building, which is owned by Dorset Council, since last November.

This was initially set up as a temporary measure to tackle NHS waiting lists and was created as part of the Dorset Health Village -  a partnership between NHS Dorset, Dorset HealthCare, Active Dorset and Live Well Dorset. Patients were invited to attend orthopaedic, musculoskeletal and physiotherapy appointments. 

The centre has been a great success and, in March, DCH signed a 20-year lease with Dorset Council to use three additional floors of the building on a long-term basis - allowing the Trust to maximise the use of clinical space on the main hospital site.

The building will be used for a combination of clinical and office purposes, with non-clinical teams already using two floors of the building.

A Targeted Investment Fund bid worth £13m was submitted to NHS Improvement to help turn the temporary centre into a more permanent facility and expand the clinical services offered at South Walks House.

The refurbishment will include outpatient clinics, diagnostics, day case capacity and a procedure room.

Interim Chief Executive at Dorset County Hospital, Nick Johnson, said: “We’re delighted to have received funding to turn two floors of South Walks House into dedicated clinical space.

“The current Outpatient Assessment Centre was set up quickly as a temporary measure to help us tackle waiting lists with pods used for appointments. Now that we are using this building on a long-term basis, we can carry out improvement works to turn two floors of South Walks House into a better, permanent clinical space.”

While these building works are carried out, the Outpatient Assessment Centre at South Walks House will temporarily move to Vespasian House in Dorchester to allow the essential works to be carried out. The pop-up centre will use space previously used by NHS Dorset.

Outpatient Assessment Centre clinics will start running from Vespasian House on Monday, 21 November. Any patients affected by the move will be contacted directly.

Nick added: “We need to move the existing pop-up Outpatient Assessment Centre to carry out the refurbishment works. By moving the centre to Vespasian House, we can continue to offer appointments and avoid disruption for patients while construction work is ongoing at South Walks House.”

The aim is that the Outpatient Assessment Centre and additional clinical services will start operating from South Walks House in June 2023.