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16 January 2023

Outline plans to develop the Dorset County Hospital (DCH) site have been approved by Dorset Council.

The Trust’s Your Future Hospital programme sets out plans to expand facilities on the site in Dorchester and help meet increasing demand.

These include building a new Emergency Department (ED) and Critical Care Unit on the site of the former Damers First School, which is included as part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme that will see 40 new hospitals built by 2030.

The outline plans also take into account the Trust’s longer-term aspirations to improve the hospital’s main entrance, provide integrated care and offer key worker housing for staff.

Nick Johnson, Interim Chief Executive at Dorset County Hospital, said:

“This is an exciting milestone for DCH and brings us a step closer to expanding our site, including building a brand-new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit. Our hospital is busier than ever, so investment is vital to allow us to provide the highest standards of care for many years to come.

“The new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit will have a dedicated children’s area, an enhanced recovery service and a mental health suite. We will have more beds and the facilities we need to care for our sickest patients. It will also allow us to repurpose the existing spaces to help meet the rising demand for other inpatient services.”

The Trust will now prepare detailed designs and submit them to Dorset Council for approval, with the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit being the first major scheme. Subject to full business case approval by the Government and full planning permission being granted, construction work is due to begin in 2024.

Work to demolish the former Damers School building will begin in the spring. This will allow groundworks to be carried out to prepare the site for development.

Read more information about the plans.