POOLE Hospital has been given permission to build a new main entrance after its current structure was found to compromise ‘patient dignity and safety’.

Described as a “statement” building by architects, the new entrance will replace the current courtyard entrance and sheltered link corridor.

Three new retail units – a café, convenience store and gift shop – and a “large and airy reception and waiting area” will also be built, as well as a patient drop-off point at the entrance.

A first floor circulation link will form part of the new entrance, which will connect the main hospital building, the Dorset Cancer Centre, and the Philip Arnold ward.

Bowman Riley Architects, which drew up the plans for Poole Hospital, said there was currently “no obvious single main entrance for the visitor” in their design and access statement.

The new building will provide visitors with a “focal point and single way of entry”.

“Patient dignity and safety is compromised as transfers (including ambulant, bed and wheelchair) between the three buildings are presently facilitated by way of an unheated poly-glazed link tunnel,” the architects explained in their statement.

They added the the existing catering and retail offer did not meet the requirements of a large district hospital.

Debbie Fleming, chief executive of Poole Hospital, has welcomed the development, saying it is “exciting” and will make a “huge difference”.

“The proposed new front entrance includes a single-storey build – covering the current entrances 6, 7, and 8 – which will link the main hospital to the Philip Arnold Unit. In this way, it will be easier to transfer patients across the hospital, with more privacy, dignity and respect,” she said.

“The new front entrance will provide a clear focus point for the hospital - a new, modern reception area with a range of facilities, including a suite of public rest rooms and three retail outlets. By entering the hospital in this way, patients and visitors will find it easier to navigate their way around the hospital site.

“This development will make a huge difference to our patients, visitors and staff, ahead of the significant estates works that will be taking place at a later date, as we implement the recommendations of the Dorset CCG’s clinical services review.”

The plans include a “full suite” of public toilets. The three retail units will create around 15 new jobs. The existing restaurant in the main hospital building will remain.

The new patient drop-off point will have four bays and an additional set-down lane, as well as a non-emergency ambulance drop-off. Some displaced disabled parking spaces will be re-located to level G in the multi-storey car park.

The new entrance is scheduled to open in spring 2019.