New helipad for Dorset County Hospital

As part of a new emergency department and critical care unit at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, a new landing pad for the air ambulance is to be built, helped by a £2 million donation.

The new state-of-the-art helipad will be located on top of the hospital roof, with a lift that will take patients quickly and comfortably down within the building to the new emergency department.

HELP charity gives money to build a new helipad at Dorset County Hospital

Left to right: DCH emergency department consultant Dr Kevin Samarasingha, HELP Appeal aviation technical advisor Simon Jones, DCH chief financial officer Chris Hearn, DCH clinical design implementation lead Fiona Richey, HELP Appeal chief executive Robert Bertram, HELP Appeal chair Michael Henriques, DCH interim chief executive Nick Johnson, DCH matron Clare Turnbull, DCH charity fundraising manager Rachel Cole and DCH programme director Tristan Chapman

Charity HELP handed over the first £1 million payment

The charity HELP, which provides non-repayable grants for helipads at major trauma centres and hospitals, has presented one million pounds – the first instalment of the £2 million payment – to the Dorset County Hospital (DCH) to construct the new landing pad.

HELP, which stands for Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads, is funded by donations and has paid out more than £35 million since it was founded in 2009.

Dorset County Hospital emergency department

The current accident and emergency department at Dorset County Hospital will be replaced by a new emergency department and critical care unit

“We are incredibly grateful”

Interim chief executive of Dorset County Hospital Nick Johnson said:

“We are incredibly grateful to the HELP Appeal for their generous support by funding a new helipad to be built as part of the construction of a brand new emergency department and critical care unit on the former Damers School site.

“We’re fortunate to have a helipad at DCH – it allows us to provide crucial critical care quickly and ultimately helps save lives. The new helipad will be a huge benefit to our patients, staff, and air ambulance crews.”

HELP charity gives money to build a new helipad at Dorset County Hospital

Left to right; Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal, Michael Henriques HELP Appeal chair and DCH interim chief executive Nick Johnson

“Provide the best possible care for patients”

The hospital already has a helipad at ground level but that won’t be able to be used once the new buildings have been constructed, so the redevelopment has created the opportunity to improve the facility.

Chief executive of the HELP Appeal, Robert Bertram added:

“A rooftop helipad with immediate access to specialist, lifesaving treatment will undoubtedly help the amazing staff at Dorset County Hospital provide the best possible care for patients.

“The HELP Appeal has a strong history of supporting hospital helipad projects right across the South Coast from Plymouth and Exeter to Southampton and Brighton.

“Over 23,000 landings have now taken place on life-saving helipads we have funded, thanks to the support we receive from the public.”

Where the new buildings at Dorset County Hospital will go

Map of Dorset County Hospital
  1. Emergency department (on the site of the former Damers School)
  2. Critical care unit (on the site of the former Damers School)
  3. Key worker housing (where the current trust headquarters are)
  4. Main entrance (in front of the current main entrance/drop off area)
  5. Hospital support centre (currently where the multi-storey car park contractor’s compound is)

Construction due to start 2024

Subject to government approval and full planning permission being granted, construction work for the redevelopment of Dorset County Hospital is due to begin in 2024. It’s part of the government’s new hospital programme.

It’s proposed that alongside the new emergency department and a critical care unit, there will be new key worker housing, an integrated care hub, an improved entrance and a hospital support centre for non-clinical staff.

A new multi storey car park was constructed in 2023 as part of the initial plans to redesign the use of the space on the site.

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