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​Hospital Development Plans

We are hoping to expand our Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as well as establish an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset's Clinical Services Review.

Click here to find out how you can show your support for our development plans

In order to free up space on the hospital site for the development of clinical facilities, we will be building a multi-storey car park to improve parking for patients, visitors and staff. We are also working in partnership to develop the land we own on the site of the former Damers School and the current Trust Headquarters to raise income to contribute to the cost of the clinical facilities building work. The development of the Damers/Trust HQ land could include a mix of health and care related facilities and housing.​

You can click here​ to view full development plans or click here to view a summary of the phases.

We will be adding more information here as the plans progress. In the meantime queries and feedback about the plans can be sent to masterplan@dchft.nhs.uk

Update 15 September 2020

We are delighted to announce that Dorset Council's Northern Area Planning Committee has approved our multi-storey car park planning application.

DCH’s Director of Strategy, Transformation and Partnerships Nick Johnson said: “We are delighted with the decision and very grateful to the local councillors for so carefully considering our application and recognising the importance of this development for our hospital and local people. In coming to their decision they recognised that the social and economic benefits of the first phase of our site development plans significantly outweigh any harm to local heritage and landscape. We’d also like to commend the planning officers for their professional and balanced advice.

“We are really excited to now be able to forge ahead with our plans to build the multi-storey car park to free up space on the site for expanding essential clinical services and creating a hospital fit for the future for years to come.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to pass on a huge thank you to all the local people and our local partners who showed their support for our development plans in the run up to the committee meeting. Over 3,000 local residents signed the online Register of Support and many people took the time to write comments of support which were really heartening to receive.”


Update - 14 August 2020

Public urged to show their support for hospital development plans

Clinicians at Dorset County Hospital are asking local residents to register their support for the first phase of plans to expand key clinical facilities on the Dorchester site.

The plans include the expansion of the Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as well as the establishment of an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset's Clinical Services Review.

Dorset County Hospital has been allocated £62.5million of Government funding for the expansion plans as part of the national Health Infrastructure Plan and the project has been recognised as a priority.

The first phase of the development is freeing up land on the hospital site by building a multi-storey car park.

The planning application for the multi-storey car park, submitted in October 2019, was due to be heard by the Northern Area Planning Committee on 18 August 2020 but has since been delayed as the committee is no longer being held. The earliest the application can now be heard is 15 September 2020 at the next scheduled committee meeting.

In the meantime, the hospital is keen to demonstrate public support for the plans to strengthen the planning application.

Clinicians at the hospital say the plans are crucial to providing safe and high quality services into the future as, despite the best efforts of their teams, they are struggling to accommodate the rising number of patients they are treating – with the coronavirus outbreak making it clearer than ever that more space is needed.

Emergency Department Clinical Lead Dr Steve Meek said: "The Emergency Department was built for seeing 20,000 people a year and we saw 50,000 last year, so it was dated and cramped for space even before COVID-19.

"In particular, our paediatric facilities, resuscitation area and mental health room are no longer adequate. A visiting NHS dignitary told me last year that she was 'impressed how the skilled and dedicated ED team worked around these issues to deliver great care, without complaint'.

"The pandemic has added a new layer of problems, with social distancing in waiting rooms, and a permanent need to design facilities in ways which better protect the vulnerable and prevent infection.

"Our long awaited chance to build a new modern Emergency Department, to meet the needs and expectations of West Dorset residents, must not be thrown away."

Consultant in Anaesthetics and Critical Care Medicine Dr Ian Mew added: "It is essential that we are able to expand our clinical footprint to deliver the critical care and emergency care that our population require.

"With the increasing housing development in the west of Dorset, the movement of patients towards Dorchester as a result of the Clinical Services Review and the surges from tourism, we need to keep up with demand without compromising care.

"COVID-19 has had a massive impact on our ability to deliver 'normal' hospital services and this is largely due to having to take over other areas of the hospital to provide intensive care to our population when they need it the most.

"This is a very serious matter – it really is a life or death situation. The Government recognise this which is why we have been allocated the money to redevelop. I am confident that the healthcare of our population will be held in very high regard by the planning authority when it comes to enabling Dorset County Hospital to expand our clinical facilities – which depends on successful planning approval for the multi-storey car park."

Clinicians at Dorset County Hospital are urging local people to back the development plans by adding their names and postcodes to an online show of support:

Follow https://dchft.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/dch-support or go to the home page of the hospital's website www.dchft.nhs.uk  

Update - 30 July 2020

Millions in Government funding allocated for hospital development

Dorset County Hospital has been allocated £62.5million of Government funding to expand key clinical services on its Dorchester site.

At a meeting of Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust's Board yesterday (29 July 2020), members heard that the money had been allocated to DCH as part of the national Health Infrastructure Plan and the project had been recognised as a priority.

The plans include the expansion of the Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as well as the establishment of an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset's Clinical Services Review.

The first phase of the development is freeing up land on the hospital site by building a multi-storey car park. Board members were told that the planning application for the multi-storey, which was submitted to Dorset Council in October 2019, is due to be heard at the Northern Area Planning Committee on 18 August 2020.

The hospital's Director of Strategy, Transformation and Partnerships Nick Johnson said: "We are delighted to have been allocated £62.5million of Government funding for the development of these essential clinical facilities and named as a national priority project.

"However, before we can progress with this major building programme we need to free up space on the hospital site by constructing a multi-storey car park to accommodate the lost spaces and improve parking for patients, visitors and staff.

"Anyone visiting our hospital knows that parking has been an issue for many years so we simply cannot build on our car parks without replacing the spaces. We're committed to green travel but many people coming to our hospital need to travel by car – the public transport links from rural areas of Dorset are simply not adequate.

"The development of these clinical facilities is vital to make sure we are able to continue to meet the ever increasing demand on our services and secure the future of Dorset County Hospital for a generation to come.

"Our existing Emergency Department and ICU were not built to accommodate the volume of patients we are seeing now. Our clinical teams have responded magnificently to the additional challenges coronavirus has brought, but it is now more clear than ever that we must create additional space and facilities to ensure the safety of our patients. The ED and ICU have been crucial to our COVID-19 response and have had to be temporarily expanded during the outbreak.

"As well as improving healthcare services for our population we are also committed to our role in benefitting the local economy. We will work closely with our contractors to make sure local people are employed and local suppliers are used for our building programme, bringing over £4million into the local economy. We are also planning to develop other land on our site for affordable housing local key workers.

"Building the multi-storey is the first phase of this ambitious, once-in-a-lifetime development and the key to unlocking the expansion of clinical services."

You can find more details about Dorset County Hospital's site development plans at: https://www.dchft.nhs.uk/about/site-development/Pages/default.aspx

The planning application for the multi-storey can be viewed on Dorset Council's online planning portal, where members of the public can also submit comments on the application: https://planning.dorset.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=DCAPR_139869&activeTab=summary

Artist’s impressions of the proposed multi-storey car park which will be the first phase of a multi-million pound development of the hospital site. Three sides of the building feature images of local landscapes:



Update - 15 November 2019

Our planning application documents have now been added to the Dorset Council planning portal. You can click here to view them. There are over 70 documents on this planning portal - a good place to start is the Design and Access Statement Part 1.

Comments are invited and the deadline for submitting them is 17 December 2019. We have put together a document which addresses many of the comments and queries we have already received following our public engagement which you may find helpful - you can click here to read it.

Update - 21 October 2019

Hospital submits multi-storey car park planning application


Dorset County Hospital (DCH) has submitted a planning application to build a multi-storey car park as part of its plans to develop clinical facilities on its Dorchester site.

The hospital wants to expand its Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as well as establish an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset's Clinical Services Review (CSR), which stated that DCH will continue to be an emergency and planned hospital for its communities.

In order to free up space on the site for the development of clinical facilities, the hospital is proposing to build a multi-storey car park to improve parking for patients, visitors and staff. It is also working in partnership to develop the land it owns on the site of the former Damers School and the current Trust Headquarters to raise income to contribute to the cost of the clinical facilities building work. The future development of the Damers/Trust HQ land could include a mix of health and care related facilities and housing.

Local residents, councillors and hospital staff were invited to hear more about the plans during engagement events held in July. The views, ideas and concerns gathered have fed into the planning application.

Dorset County Hospital's Director of Strategy, Transformation and Partnerships Nick Johnson said: "We really appreciate people taking the time to find out more about our plans and to give us their valuable feedback. We have since further developed our plans for the multi-storey to take this on board.

"We were heartened to receive a lot of positive feedback about the plans to expand our clinical facilities. There was also a lot of support for developing affordable housing and improving car parking facilities for patients, visitors and staff.

"The main concern raised was the visual impact of the multi-storey, particularly for people living in Damers Road. We have now developed a design to incorporate some innovative green walls so vegetation will grow on the building to help soften the look of it. We have also changed the plans to remove an area of parking on the southern edge of the multi-storey so that the building is further away from Damers Road and we can retain a greater number of existing trees to help with screening."

Building the multi-storey is the first phase of the hospital's longer-term plans to develop the site.

Nick Johnson explained: "Our Emergency Department now deals with twice as many patients as it was originally designed to cope with. Demand is only going to rise in the future so we need to expand and redesign the department to make it fit for purpose.

"Similarly, our Intensive Care Unit needs to be expanded so we can cope with the increased demand and provide care in the best environment possible.

"Building the multi-storey car park will free up the space we need on our site to expand ED and ICU and create an Integrated Care Hub. The hub will bring staff and services together on site to allow us to get patients home safely in a timely way as well as help avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

"The multi-storey project will also have a positive impact on the local economy as we are committed to adding social value to our community. We will be asking contractors to employ local people and use local suppliers wherever possible."​