Dorset County Hospital

Your Future Hospital

To ensure we can meet future clinical needs and continue to provide outstanding care to our patients, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is developing a five-year masterplan to reconfigure and expand the hospital estate.


Why do we need a masterplan?

Dorset County Hospital (DCH) provides emergency and planned care to a population of approximately 300,000 across the west of the county. In 2017, NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group completed a Clinical Services Review which confirmed that we would continue to be the emergency and planned hospital for the region. Investment is now imperative to ensure that the hospital can deliver our patients’ and clinicians’ needs for years to come.

The Government’s New Hospitals Programme will see 40 new hospitals built across the UK by 2030. More than £77m in funding has been earmarked from the programme to allow us to expand our clinical facilities at DCH. We also have aspirations to improve the main hospital site, as well as re-develop our Trust Headquarters and the former Damers School site. We have identified six projects which would transform the experience for everyone:

• New Emergency Department (ED)
• New Critical Care Unit
• New Main Entrance
• New Hospital Support Centre
• Key Worker Housing
• New Integrated Care Hub

These are all part of the Trust’s Your Future Hospital programme, which sets out development plans on the DCH site over the next five years. The Trust is working on the scheme in partnership with Prime, an award-winning specialist health and care property company. We successfully teamed up on the multi-storey car park (MSCP), which will improve parking for patients, staff and visitors. The MSCP is due to be completed this summer (2022).

View a larger version of the hospital site plan here.

Hospital site plan
Hospital site key

Emergency Department (ED)

Emergency Department

Continuing to provide outstanding care

Our Emergency Department (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 ED team work extremely hard to provide high-quality care. We want to provide an environment that allows them to continue to provide outstanding care and give patients the best possible experience for years to come.

The New Hospitals Programme will allow us to build a new ED on part of the site of the former Damers School building, which would be demolished to facilitate the expansion. 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 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.

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 (CCU)

Maintaining our high standards of 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 Hospitals 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 (CCU) 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 CCU would remain open until the new facility is built, with the space being repurposed once services have relocated.

Appearance of the Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit

Please scroll through our gallery to see some artist impressions showing various views of the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit and façade options.

Main Entrance

Main Entrance

Improving patient, staff and visitor facilities

A new two-storey main entrance would be built 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

Hospital Support Centre

Administrative spaces for staff

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. We are currently doing an office report and assessment which will define what goes into the building.

Key Worker Accommodation

Key Worker Accomodation

Offering staff a place to live

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 will 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 will be provided for the occupants.

Integrated Care Hub

Integrated Care Hub

Health services for the entire community

Plans for an Integrated Health Hub were set out in the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) by NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group and include all community services, some of which are currently operated in a hospital environment, and some in the community. There are plans to create 13 health hubs across the whole of Dorset, with Doset County Hospital (DCH) 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. DCH are working with the wider health community to identify the best sites for the new health hubs. A full review of space requirements and usage is underway and will support decision making on the best locations.

We are currently considering whether Dorset County Hospital is a suitable site for a health hub, but have made provision for this in our plans. The image on shows where the health hub could be situated. This is currently planned as an area allocated for key worker housing.

Access Routes

Access Routes

Improving vehicle flow and emergency vehicle access

A new access point off Damers Road would 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.

We do not anticipate an increase in the number of vehicle movements to the hospital as we are developing plans to meet current demand. 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 for up to ten vehicles will be created. We also plan to develop a dedicated drop-off area and increase the amount of short-stay parking.

This project would require development on the current helipad site. A new rooftop helipad will be created on the ED building, easing disruption for our neighbours by preventing road closures and removing noise and downdraft disturbance to a greater distance. The Trust is working with the Ambulance Service and Air Ambulance team to identify a suitable temporary location off-site for the construction phase of the project until a new rooftop helipad can be opened.

Next Steps

To make changes to our site we need to apply for planning permission. We will be doing this in phases. In the coming months we will apply to Dorset Council for outline planning permission. This allows for a decision to be made on the general principles of how our site can be developed.

As part of that application we will be including feedback that was submitted via this page. This survey has now closed so that we can consider comments before preparing final designs.

If the council grants permission for our outline planning application, it would be subject to conditions. We would then need to submit full planning permission for each scheme, and we would provide further opportunities for you to give feedback. Please visit to stay up to date with progress on the project.