Enquiries: 01305 251150

Emergency Department

Updated 20 July 2021

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

Summer 2021 Update

This summer, our Emergency Department (ED) will temporarily relocate its minor injuries team to Weymouth Hospital while vital refurbishment work takes place at Dorchester ED to increase our capacity.

The Dorchester ED will still be available 24/7 as usual for serious and life threatening injuries and conditions, but will not be able to accommodate less serious cases while the refurbishment work takes place.

Any patients who attend Dorchester for non-serious conditions are likely to be booked into the Weymouth service, which will run from 8am until midnight every day for the duration of the Dorchester refurbishment work.

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, a nurse will be called to assess you.

If you have a ‘minor’ injury you will be seen by one of our Nurse Practitioners or Casualty 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 Nurse 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. We are currently seeing 96% of people within four hours and are constantly striving to improve.

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 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.

Heart attack treatment: Thrombolysis

The Emergency Department and the hospital’s Coronary Care Unit have worked closely with Dorset Ambulance Trust to ensure heart attack victims are given the right treatment as quickly as possible. Some patients can now be given lifesaving thrombolysis treatment by trained paramedics within 20 minutes of calling an ambulance, which maximises their chances of a full recovery.

Thrombolysis involves injecting a clot–busting drug into a patient having a heart attack to dissolve the clot and prevent long–term damage to the heart muscle from a lack of oxygen.

The paramedics cannot thrombolyse all patients so a dedicated chest pain bed area has been set up in the ED so all the necessary equipment is always at hand. The paramedics can send the hospital information about the patient on the road so by the time they arrive at the ED staff know enough about the patient to begin appropriate treatment immediately.

Children’s facilities

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

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.

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