Enquiries: 01305 251150

Emergency Department

Updated 18 January 2024

If you have chest pain or severe breathing difficulties you should dial 999 for an ambulance immediately.

The Emergency Department (ED) at Dorset County Hospital provides a 24 hour service.

The Emergency Department is for serious injuries and life threatening conditions. Please click here for more information about local Minor Injuries Units and Weymouth Urgent Treatment Centre.

If you're not sure which service would best suit your needs please call 111 or visit NHS 111 online

What to expect from a visit to the ED

Patients arriving by emergency ambulances and helicopters will obviously be assessed immediately and treatment commenced accordingly.

If you arrive at the Emergency Department by yourself, not in an ambulance or helicopter as a result of calling emergency services, the receptionist will ask you a few questions. If you have any serious problems you will be taken to the ‘majors’ area immediately to receive treatment or if more appropriate, you will be triaged by a skilled nurse and streamed to the appropriate area of the department for your condition. You may be redirected away from the Emergency Department to another service like your GP or an Urgent Treatment Centre or Minor Injury Unit if your presenting injury or condition could be managed by those services appropriately.

If you have a ‘minor’ injury you will be seen by one of our advanced clinical practitioners or doctors in the ‘see and treat’ area. The highly skilled and experienced minor injuries team can treat a wide range of injuries, from simple cuts to serious bone fractures, wounds and burns.

You may be asked to take a seat in the waiting area until a doctor or advanced clinical practitioner can assess or treat you. We will endeavour to see you as soon as is feasibly possible. We aim to admit, transfer or discharge all patients within four hours of them arriving in the ED. 

During your time in the department you will be given a named nurse who will co–ordinate your care. You will be examined by a doctor or advanced clinical practitioner and any necessary tests will be done before a decision is reached whether you should be admitted to hospital for further treatment or treated in the department and discharged. We have a short–stay bedded area in the department so we can make you as comfortable as possible if you need to stay in the department for a while.

You may need to be referred to a specialist within the hospital and require admission directly to the relevant ward or return for an appointment in a different department another day.

Children’s facilities

We have a special waiting area for children where there are plenty of toys, games, books, a TV and videos.

The room has been refurbished thanks to the Friends of Dorset County Hospital. We also have paediatric staff within the department.

Relatives' room

There is a comfortable private waiting room set aside for relatives of patients brought into the Emergency Department with serious injuries and conditions.

How to find us

The department is located in the South Wing of the hospital on Level 1. The entrance for vehicles is in Damers Road and is signposted on routes into Dorchester.

Some parking is available outside the department and other hospital parking areas are close by. Please do not park in the ambulance bay or under the helipad barrier. There is a helipad right outside the department. An increasing number of patients arrive at the Emergency Department via the air ambulance, police helicopter or coastguard helicopter (although due to building works is currently re-sited five minutes away by ambulance).

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