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Changes to NHS services in Dorset to help manage COVID-19

NHS services in Dorset are gearing up for changes help minimise the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and deal with any upturn in patient numbers caused by the outbreak.

This will involve reducing or closing some non-essential services to protect the most essential services and, ultimately, save lives. The NHS regularly plans for such events, so its staff are prepared and have a clear understanding of what will work best.

Dr Steve Tomkins, Medical Director for Dorset HealthCare, said: “We will be looking at providing services in different ways to meet the needs of patients, families and communities.

“Some of our staff will be re-deployed from their usual services to areas where their expertise is most needed, and we are working with teams across Dorset’s NHS system to manage any impact this may have on patients.”

From now on, people won’t be able to turn up at a GP surgery, minor injuries unit or urgent treatment centre without an appointment. The following changes have been made to opening times:

  • Blandford, Portland and Sherborne minor injuries units are closed
  • Shaftesbury, Wimborne and Weymouth's Urgent Treatment Centre services will continue with extended opening hours - Wimborne: Mon to Fri 8am-8pm, Sat/Sun 8am-4.30pm; Shaftesbury: Mon to Sun 8am-8pm; Weymouth: Mon to Sun 8am-8pm. Telephone appointment only.
  • Bridport and Swanage services will continue as normal but by telephone appointment only.

You can no longer walk into these services. If you have an ailment or injury which requires urgent care, please call your local MIU or 01305 762541 and you will be given advice or booked in for a face-to-face appointment at the appropriate site. 

If you need GP services, please refer to your practice website for information on how to access GP care. If you do not have online access, please phone your GP instead. The clinical staff in your GP surgery will speak to you on the phone to assess your medical need and how to manage it.

This use of telephone triage will keep both the public and our staff safe. However, rest assured that if you need to be seen, you will be seen.

Practices will be increasingly working together over the coming weeks to support patients.

Emergency departments are still open 24/7 for serious conditions and injuries. Phone NHS 111 if you’re not sure what support you need, or call 999 for anything life threatening as normal.

If you think you have symptoms of coronavirus go to nhs.uk/coronavirus to find out what to do. Staying at home, washing hands as directed for 20 seconds regularly, and observing the latest government guidelines will help keep you and NHS staff safe.

Hospitals have also suspended all non-urgent elective operations for at least three months and there are new restrictions on visiting patients. Check the hospital websites for the latest information.

Dr Tomkins added:

“We know many people will be unsettled and concerned by changes to NHS services, and fully understand that. However, these changes are absolutely necessary to ensure we can effectively manage the current outbreak, keep people safe and, ultimately, save lives.

“We will be contacting people about cancelled operations and appointments, and anyone else directly affected, as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, please remember that our staff are extremely busy at present dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 and that you should call upon NHS services only when absolutely necessary. This will help us to help you.

“We thank everyone for their patience and understanding at this challenging time for everyone.”

For regular updates about hospital and community services in Dorset, go to the following websites:

Dorset County Hospital: www.dchft.nhs.uk

Dorset HealthCare: www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/

Poole Hospital: www.poole.nhs.uk/

Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals: www.rbch.nhs.uk/

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