Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group

Stay Well

Helping you make the right decisions to stay healthy all year round.

Your NHS Services Staying well in winter If you become ill in winter



Your NHS Services

Using the most appropriate NHS service when you are ill or injured can help save you time, and in some cases save lives.


There are over 150 pharmacies in Dorset, many of which are open at evening and weekends. You can speak to your pharmacist for advice on many non-serious illnesses, such as colds and flu, and they will be able to offer advice on self-care and appropriate over-the-counter medicines.

All pharmacies have private consultation rooms if you would like to speak to someone in confidence.

Pharmacy finder


If you are ill or have a mild injury that doesn’t seem to be healing or an ongoing medical problem or concerns, call your GP practice. Many GPs can offer advice over the phone, or you can make an appointment by phone or, in some case, online. The health care professionals at your surgery can help you get the right treatment, prescribe you the right medicine or refer you to the right service.

Your nearest practice

NHS 111

When you need medical advice and are not sure who to contact, call 111 to speak to a trained adviser who can direct you to the best medical care for your needs. If you or someone you are with is hurt or unwell, and you’re not sure if you need to call 999, call 111 first. The adviser can then arrange for an ambulance to be sent out to you if you need one.

Urgent Care

If your injury is not serious (e.g. broken bones, strains and strains, minor burns and minor head, back and chest injuries), visit your nearest urgent care service. This could be a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit (MIU), urgent treatment centre (UTC) or urgent care centre (UCC).

By using your local urgent care service instead of your Emergency Department you can cut down on how long you have to wait for treatment, and allow emergency care staff to concentrate on people with serious, life-threatening conditions.

Find your nearest urgent care service

Emergency Departments

Your local Emergency Department (or A&E) is for people with life-threatening injuries or illnesses. If you or someone you are with is very seriously ill or hurt, call 999 and speak to a trained adviser who will be able to talk you through what to do and arrange for an ambulance to be sent out to you if you need one.

If you’re not sure whether to call 999, call 111 first, and they will direct you to the right service or arrange for an ambulance on your behalf. Using your Emergency Department only when you really need it can help staff concentrate on the most seriously ill or unwell people, and help save lives.

Find your nearest Emergency Department


Staying well in winter

In winter it’s easier to catch illnesses such as cold and flu, which can have serious complications. There are many ways you can be prepared and help ensure you and your friends and family stay well this winter.

Get your flu jab

Speak to your GP or pharmacist about getting this year’s flu vaccination. It will not only help to protect you from the virus, but will also protect those around you who might be more at risk from complications like bronchitis and pneumonia.

People considered to be at-risk of these complications are entitled to a free flu jab every year, or for children the free nasal spray inoculation. Ask your GP or pharmacist, or check now to see if you are eligible for a free flu jab.

Check in on others

Older or frail neighbours, friends and family members might need a little extra help when the weather is cold or icy, so remember to check in regularly. Ask if they need anything, or if they’re feeing under the weather, and check that they have enough food, supplies and any prescription medicines they may need for a few days if the weather prevents them from getting out and about.

Stock up on medicines

Make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked with over-the-counter remedies for cold and flu, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.

You might find that your local pharmacy and GP practice have different opening hours during the holiday period, so it’s important to check these in advance. If you or someone you know receives regular prescription medicines, make sure you’ve got enough to last over any periods of closure (e.g. Bank Holidays), and give your pharmacy at least 48 hours to prepare your prescription.

Check pharmacy opening times

Check GP opening times


If you become ill in winter

If you do become ill over the winter months


Colds, flu and sickness bugs like Norovirus are easier to catch in the winter, but luckily they should only last a few days. Staying warm at home, drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest is the best course of action.

For colds and flu-like illnesses, over-the-counter cold medicines, paracetamol and ibuprofen can all help you manage your symptoms, so make sure you’re stocked up in advance. Your local pharmacist can also offer advice on the best over-the-counter medicines for your symptoms.

For sickness bugs like Norovirus, which are highly contagious, it’s best to wait 48 hours after you’ve stopped having symptoms before returning to school or work to avoid spreading the illness.

NHS services

The NHS offers many services locally for when you’re more seriously ill or injured, and using the right service for your needs can mean you protect more vulnerable people from picking up your illness, and that you’re treated more quickly.

Read our online service guide to find the best option for you, and where you can go for help.

Emergency care in winter

Accident and emergency departments often see an influx of people during the winter, many of whom could have been treated at a more appropriate location, such as their local urgent care service. Emergency Departments are for people with life-threatening injuries or illnesses, but when people go there that could be treated elsewhere, it cuts down on the time that staff can spend on those that really require their care.

If you’re not sure whether to call 999, call 111 first, and a trained advisor will direct you to the right service, or arrange for an ambulance on your behalf.