Dorset County Hospital gets multi million cash injection

As part of Dorset’s reorganisation of clinical services across hospitals, Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester has just announced that it has secured £62.5 million of government funding to expand its accident and emergency department and its intensive care unit (ICU).

The Clinical Services Review is also behind the planned closure of the accident and emergency department at Poole Hospital and the expected expansion of the A&E at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

More likely that patients from Swanage will be admitted to Dorchester’s A&E

With these changes, it’s now more likely that patients from Swanage and Purbeck will be admitted to Dorchester’s A&E, rather than being taken by ambulance over to Bournemouth, so the expansion of the facilities in Dorchester is urgently needed to cope with the increased demand.

The A&E was originally built for 22,000 attendances a year but now already sees almost 50,000, according to the hospital’s figures.

An integrated care hub

The confirmation of the government money will also allow the hospital to establish an integrated care hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset’s Clinical Services Review.

This care hub will bring together local health and social care services, so that all teams can work closely together to coordinate timely and safe discharge for patients. They are also looking at locating a GP practice in the hub.

Dorset County Hospital artist's impression
Dorset County Hospital

Architect’s impression of what the new hospital development will look like

Only now that the funding has been put in place

The plans to redevelop the hospital date back to 2017 but it’s only now that the funding has been put in place. The first phase of the project is to build a multi-storey car park on the hospital site to free up land elsewhere for the new buildings.

The planning application for this was submitted in October 2019 and is due to be heard by the local planning committee on Tuesday 18th August 2020.

“we must create additional space and facilities to ensure the safety of our patients”

The hospital’s director of strategy, transformation and partnerships, Nick Johnson said:

“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 (ED) 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 benefiting 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 £4 million into the local economy. We are also planning to develop other land on our site for affordable housing for 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.”

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