Secretary of State for Health and Social Care visits Dorset hospitals

20th May 2024

Patients and staff at Dorset hospitals met Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Victoria Atkins MP when she visited the county.

The Health Secretary, who was appointed to the post in November last year, started her tour of the south west with a visit to Dorset HealthCare and Dorset County Hospital sites.

First stop was Westminster Memorial Hospital in Shaftesbury where Ms Atkins met mental and physical health staff, plus social care colleagues, who work closely together on site.

She then enjoyed a cup of tea and a chat with patients in the hospital’s day room before touring the garden created and maintained by the Friends of the hospital and volunteers.

Her next stop was Dorset County Hospital’s (DCH) new Outpatient Assessment Centre at South WalksSoS meets patient Ruth Bowden in Shaftesbury.JPG House in Dorchester. The centre opened in February and includes a treatment suite, diagnostic facilities (such as X-ray and ultrasound equipment) and clinic rooms to help reduce waiting times for patients.

Her final visit was to the construction site of DCH’s new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit, which is part of the government’s New Hospital Programme. She was able to see the progress of the enabling works that are underway on the former Damers School site and review the plans for the new building, which is due to open in 2027.

Commenting on her visit, Ms Atkins said:

“It was great to visit Dorset to see for myself the fantastic health care facilities that are available to patients across the county, as well as those in the pipeline.

“This included the construction site for the brand-new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit for Dorset County Hospital, which will help ensure we are meeting the needs of the NHS in the future.

“I also had the opportunity to meet fantastic members of staff, who go above and beyond for their patients every day, helping to make access to care faster, simpler and fairer for all.”

Matthew Bryant, Chief Executive of Dorset HealthCare and Dorset County Hospital, said:

“It was a real pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State and to showcase the great work being done in Dorset.

“I was extremely proud to be alongside colleagues highlighting the many ways in which we are making a difference for patients by working in partnership across mental and physical health and with primary care and members of our community.  

“We are doing innovative work which is making a real difference for patients and colleagues and it was great to have the opportunity to showcase some of this with partners and patients and talk about the challenges we are facing.”



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