New £14m NHS outpatient department opens in Dorchester

A NEW £14 million outpatient department has been opened by Dorset County Hospital (DCH).

The scheme to refurbish the Outpatient Assessment Centre, at South Walks House, in the town centre, saw two floors of the building converted into permanent clinical space.

Funding came from the NHS England Elective Recovery and Community Diagnostics Programme, and a 20-year lease was signed for the premises with Dorset Council.

DCH started running a pop-up Outpatient Assessment Centre on one floor of the building in November 2021 as a temporary measure to tackle NHS waiting lists.

Now, the funding has been used to expand and enhance the centre, with two floors of dedicated clinical space allowing staff to run more outpatient clinics and offer diagnostics appointments such as x-rays and scans, as well as day case local anaesthetic procedures and general health and wellbeing services.

X-rays and more can be offered at the refurbished site

X-rays and more can be offered at the refurbished site

Arts University Bournemouth students designed the internal artwork to create a welcoming space and help patients find their way around, and volunteers will also be on hand to offer support.

Chief operating officer at DCH, Anita Thomas, said: “We are delighted that our new Outpatient Assessment Centre has opened at South Walks House.

“It will give us additional clinical space and facilities to reduce waiting times for outpatient and diagnostic appointments, and ensure patients receive the right care and treatment more quickly.

“Clinicians across different specialties will work together to find the best treatment options for patients. People will be signposted to the services they need on the day, so they can see the healthcare professionals they need at the same appointment.

“Patients will also be able to access a wealth of health and wellbeing information and advice on-site which will support their treatment.”

The first clinics to be held at the new centre include orthopaedics, rheumatology, musculoskeletal physiotherapy, orthotics and phlebotomy, with many more due to run in the coming months.

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.