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Updated 30 May 2024
Artist's impression of the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit.
Enabling works underway on site

We have been earmarked funding from the Government’s New Hospital Programme to expand services on our Dorchester site, including building a brand new Emergency Department (ED) and Critical Care Unit (CrCU).

We provide emergency and planned care to a population of approximately 300,000 across the west of the county. Increasing demand is putting increasing pressure on our Emergency Department, which treats twice as many people as it was built for. Demand is expected to rise, so investment is vital to make sure we can meet our patients’ needs.

The new ED and CrCU will be built on part of the site of the former Damers School building. This would be demolished to facilitate the expansion. The new building would link to the existing hospital.

Emergency Department
Our ED has been ranked as one of the top 10 in the country for emergency care, even though we currently see twice the number of people the department was originally built for. 

The layout for the ED would be reconfigured to work better, with dedicated areas for a majors, minor, paediatrics and a dedicated mental health facility. There will also be an ambulance offload and fast assessment area.

Patients would access this facility via a new entrance off Damers Road, with short-stay parking provided. It will have a link corridor into the existing hospital.

During construction our current ED would stay in operation, with construction managed around it. The ED would then move into the new building once it is completed. The existing ED would be repurposed.

Critical Care Unit
With ongoing housing developments, a growing population, increased tourism and the COVID-19 pandemic, we have never had a higher demand for our critical care services. This is where seriously ill patients receive specialist care.

We must keep up with this demand without compromising care for our patients and support for their loved ones.

At present our hospital has 11 critical care bed spaces. The New Hospital Programme will enable us to build a 24-bed critical care unit (CrCU), including a paediatric space.

The unit would sit directly above the new Emergency Department (ED).

Similar to the ED project, our current CrCU would remain open until the new facility is built, with the space being repurposed once services have relocated.

DCH Charity’s £2.5M Appeal is raising funds for enhanced facilities to make patient care and staff wellbeing even better in the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit.  Find out more on the DCH Charity's website. 

New helipad

The helipad will be relocated onto the roof, with ambulance parking situated on the site of the old helipad. The new helipad is being funded by the HELP Appeal Charity. Read more.

Our  helicopter landing site has temporarily moved to the Army Reserve Centre site on Poundbury Road to allow enabling works and construction of the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit to take place. Read more.

Improving vehicle flow and emergency vehicle access
A new access point off Damers Road will be required to the south of the new Emergency Department (ED) to enable service vehicles and patients to reach the department with ease. This improved configuration will in-turn provide ambulances with a separate, dedicated access route as the existing blue light access from Damers Road will not be affected.

The new access route will decrease congestion by improving vehicle flow into the site and prevent conflict for ambulances on arrival. The site currently has three ambulance parking bays – this will be increased and a waiting area will be created. We also plan to develop a dedicated drop-off area and increase the amount of short-stay parking.

Latest news

Enabling works are underway on site, including construction of the new access road.

We have received full planning permission and our Full Business Case is with the Department of Health and Social Care.

Subject to final approval from the Government, construction work will begin in autumn 2024. Tilbury Douglas is our construction partner.