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Updated 11 October 2023

Our masterplan sets out our plans for how we would like to develop our hospital site over the next few years.

The Government's New Hospital Programme will allow us to extend our Emergency Department (ED) and Critical Care Unit (CCU) and we would also like to provide:

  • more key worker housing to help us recruit and retain staff
  • integrated care hub
  • a new and improved entrance
  • hospital support centre for non-clinical staff to use

New Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit 

The new Emergency Department (ED) and Critical Care Unit (CrCU) would 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 unit, minor injuries unit and paediatrics.

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. 

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
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.

It’s vital that we 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 suitable to serve our community for the next 25 years.

The new Critical Care Unit (CrCU) would sit directly above the new Emergency Department (ED) on part of the site currently taken up by the former Damers School building.

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.

Main construction is due to begin in 2024.

Artist's impression of the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit

New main entrance 

We would like to build a new two-storey main entrance in the current front courtyard area. It would provide a new reception area, increased
comfortable seating areas and more food and drink options. The second floor would provide increased hospital space for either office space or clinical facilities.

Details of the internal layout and units are yet to be developed, but the aim is to improve the day-to-day experience for our patients, staff and visitors.

The space would offer a place to relax and recharge, and an improved reception area would benefit patients and visitors. Retail outlets could offer a range of goods which offer choice and quality to all those accessing the hospital.

Hospital support centre 

Whilst our new car park is being built, part of the site is currently taken up with a compound for contractors Willmott Dixon. Once this work is complete we hope to develop a three-storey building on the vacant land.

This would bring together our current admin spaces into one building, in turn freeing up the estate for other uses.

The services that the support centre would cater for are yet to be fully defined but it would be suitable to house administrative spaces for staff and there is also potential to provide a small outpatient area. 

Key worker housing 

Dorset is a beautiful place to live and work, but it is also very expensive to rent or buy a home here and this impacts our ability to recruit and retain staff. We need to be able to offer good quality, affordable accommodation for staff that is close to their place of work.

We plan to develop a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom homes and apartments for our staff at the hospital, providing affordable housing for staff who might not otherwise be able or willing to live in the area.

All accommodation would be rented below the open market value. The development would sit on the bulk of the former Damers School site and current Trust HQ sites. There would also be potential to create five two-bed houses on the site of the current diabetes centre. The houses would have private gardens and the apartments will benefit from shared landscaped outside spaces and we would also like to create some ‘grow your own’ spaces. Dedicated parking would be provided for the occupants.

Integrated Community Health Hub

There are plans to create 13 health hubs across the whole of Dorset, with Dorset County Hospital identified as a potential location.

A two-storey building would be required to house the hub. It would typically offer
community-based services. For example, the diabetes centre could be located in a health hub once it has been developed. Health hubs also provide a base for health workers who do the bulk of their work outside of a physical clinic but also require a practical workspace.

Due to the community focus of a health hub it may not be best situated on the hospital site. We are working with the wider health community to identify the best sites for the new health hubs. 

We are currently considering whether Dorset County Hospital is a suitable site for a health hub.

What are the next steps?

The multi-storey car park frees up the space to expand ED and CrCU and move forward with plans for the hub. This work is underway and the car park construction was  completed in summer 2022.

During February and March 2022, we invited the public and staff to give feedback on our site development plans.

Click here to read our statement of community involvement, including all the feedback we received.

This feedback was considered as part of our outline planning application.

Our Outline Business Case (OBC) for the new ED and CrCU was approved  by the Government and we have been granted full planning permission

Here's an easy read document summarising our plans.

Map showing our plans

This map shows where our new buildings would go.

  1. Emergency Department (where the former Damers School is)
  2. Critical Care Unit (where the former Damers School is)
  3. Key Worker Housing (where the current Trust Headquarters are)
  4. Main Entrance (in front of the current main entrance/drop off area)
  5. Hospital Support Centre (currently where the multi-storey car park contractor's compound is)
Site Map showing Key working housing to the far left, then the new Emergency Dept and Critical Care Unit, new main entrance and hospital support centre