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The Community Radio Station covering Central-Southern Dorset, run by volunteers and not-for-profit

Hospital helipad to temporarily move ahead of construction works

The helicopter landing site at Dorset County Hospital will temporarily move to allow enabling works and construction of the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit to take place.

Dorset County Hospital has plans to build a brand-new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit, including a rooftop helipad, on the former Damers School site.

To allow demolition and enabling works to begin, the current helipad – which is at ground level next to the existing Emergency Department – needs to be decommissioned, as it will not be able to be accept flights while construction work is underway.

It will move down to the Army Reserve Centre on Poundbury Road, just a short distance from the hospital. The site includes a large field with easy access for crews to transfer patients to an ambulance and be taken to the hospital, less than three minutes away.

Dorset County Hospital has worked closely with Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, South Western Ambulance Service and clinicians to test the site and route to make sure the high standards of care are maintained.

The site is already used as a landing area for military helicopters. The clinical crew on the helicopter will transfer with the patient onto the ambulance and continue to provide care on the way to the hospital.

Mario Carretta, Unit Chief Pilot at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, said:

“The introduction of a rooftop helipad at Dorset County Hospital will facilitate the safe and efficient transfer of patients to and from the hospital by helicopter. The Army Reserve Centre will act as an excellent alternative during the build, and we have worked with the hospital and South Western Ambulance Service to ensure that the move will not adversely affect the critical care we provide to patients.”

The new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit is part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme and will give the Trust the space and facilities to care for more people in the future.

Tristan Chapman, Programme Director at Dorset County Hospital, said:

“We would like to thank C Company 6 RIFLES for allowing us to use their site as a landing area for helicopters. It will allow us to start enabling works on site which will bring us a step closer to building the brand-new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit. The new rooftop helipad, funded by a £2 million grant from the HELP Appeal charity, will allow patients to be transferred quickly and comfortably via a lift directly into the hospital, maintaining their privacy and dignity.”

The Army Reserve Centre will be used as a helicopter landing site from 23 May 2023 until construction of the new building and helipad is complete. The aim is that it will be finished by the end of 2026.

The Air Ambulance on the DCH helipad. Photo credit: Matt Cape, Simulation Technician at DCH.

The Air Ambulance on the DCH helipad. Photo credit: Matt Cape, Simulation Technician at DCH.