Enquiries: 01305 251150

Updated 26 January 2024
Artist's impression of the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit.

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

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. 

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.

We have received full planning permission and are developing our Full Business Case.

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

The 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.

Construction updates

26 January 2024

The roadworks on Damers Road have now finished.

Work to build an access road as part of the construction of our new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit is ongoing, but Damers Road is open as usual.

1 January 2024

From Monday 8 January there will be roadworks on Damers Road as part of the construction of our new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit on the old Damers School site. 

There needs to be a new access road to the new building with an entrance and exit junction, just down from the old school entrance. 

To create this, our contractor Tilbury Douglas will need to close part of Damers Road and put a traffic light system in place to allow vehicles to continue to travel along the road. They will also need to temporarily close off some of the on-street parking in the area too. This is to allow traffic to continue to flow along Damers Road and make sure blue light vehicles can easily access the existing Emergency Department. Dorset Council has given us permission to carry out these works on the highway. 

The works will last for up to six weeks.  

Contractors will be on site between Monday-Friday from 7am to 7pm and Saturday from 7am to 1pm. Traffic management will be in place 24 hours-a-day throughout the duration of the works.  

Visitors wishing to arrive via the main hospital entrance may wish to travel via Bridport Road instead. 

We have tried our best to plan these works so that they cause minimal disruption, including starting after the festive period.  

Our main contractor, Tilbury Douglas, is part of the Considerate Contractor Scheme, which means they are committed to a code of good practice and go above and beyond to minimise impact on people who live and work nearby their construction site. If you have any concerns once the works are underway, you can call 0800 783 1423 or visit www.ccscheme.org.uk 

These works are an essential part of our scheme, which will help us make sure we have the facilities and space to provide emergency and critical care to people for years to come.  

We apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause and thank you for your patience.

December 2023

Our contractor is starting to prepare the ground for construction of our new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit.

As part of this, we need to divert the footpath that currently runs through the hospital site between Bridport Road and Damers Road.

It is a public right of way and Dorset Council has given us permission to create a diversion. Pedestrians will still be able to access this via the same point from Bridport Road, but the new path will bring people out further along Damers Road by the old school entrance.

The image shows the diversion (photo taken before the old Damers School building was demolished.)

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