New helicopter landing spot as Dorchester hospital work continues

A HELICOPTER landing site at Dorset County Hospital is being moved during building work.

The landing pad, next to the current Emergency Department, is being relocated as work on a new department continues at the Dorchester site.

Construction of the new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit is being carried out on the former Damers School site, and will feature a rooftop landing spot for the helicopter, operated by Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.

To allow demolition and enabling works to begin, the current helipad will be decommissioned, moving to the Army Reserve Centre on Poundbury Road, a site 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.

Work is set to be completed on the new building by the end of 2026.

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 May 23 until construction of the new building and helipad is complete.

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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.