Planners green light new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit at Dorset County Hospital

PLANS for a new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit at Dorset County Hospital (DCH) in Dorchester have been given the green light.

The facilities will be built on the site of the former Damers First School as part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme.

The project includes a rooftop helipad, purpose-built spaces for both major and minor injuries and conditions, a mental health facility, a dedicated emergency paediatrics area, 24 critical care beds, and an ambulance arrivals and fast assessment area.

Dorset Council approved outline plans in January and now full planning permission has been given.

DCH chief executive Matthew Bryant said: “This is a significant milestone for Dorset County Hospital and brings us a step closer to building our new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit as part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme.

“This development is very important for the population of Dorset and will deliver much larger, state-of-the-art facilities for patients most in need of life-saving care.

“It will improve care for patients and help us attract and retain staff who want to provide high quality specialist healthcare in modern facilities. It’s a very exciting time for us at DCH and we’re delighted that Dorset Council has approved the plans.”

The plans are subject to full business case approval from the Government but main construction work on the Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit is scheduled to begin in 2024.

The building has been designed by global design practice BDP and will be built by contractor Tilbury Douglas.

BDP architect director Nick Durham said: “The design of these new specialist facilities is based on creating flexible spaces that can adapt to changing patterns of demand, supporting a model of care focused on reducing pressure on these services.

“We have undertaken an inclusive and engaging consultation process with staff and wider stakeholders drawing on technologies such as virtual reality to ensure the design proposals are an accurate representation of their needs.

“Today’s news is an important move towards delivering improved, efficient, and effective emergency and critical care for people across Dorset.”

Paul Gale, divisional director at Tilbury Douglas, said: “Achieving the green light from the planners is a really exciting moment, not only for the local community, but the project teams whose dedicated work has secured this life-changing resource.

“Our teams are geared up for the next stages of construction and we’re looking forward to moving ahead with enabling works and the main New Hospital Programme scheme on site.”

The former Damers School building was demolished over the summer and groundworks to prepare the site for development will begin in October.

More information about the scheme can be found at

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