The coronavirus pandemic means that the NHS has been through a year like no other. We wanted to share with you some of the challenges and opportunities facing your NHS, and how you can continue to help us help you.
The NHS locally has rolled out the biggest vaccination programme in health service history – delivering more than a million doses in Dorset alone. People have been able to get their COVID-19 jabs at GP surgeries, community pharmacies and clinics across Dorset, as well as the hugely successful large vaccination centre in Bournemouth. Getting vaccinated has been shown to dramatically reduce your chances of being hospitalised or dying from the disease. This remains key for us in Dorset and we want to try to reach everyone so if you know someone who hasn’t been called or who has now changed their mind and wants the vaccine, there’s still time to get a jab. We could not have achieved all this without the skill and dedication of our people along with the support of volunteers, other keyworkers and, of course, the public who have played their part. Thank you.
NHS services in Dorset continue to be under extreme pressure this summer.
General practice in Dorset has been open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but the way people contact their GP surgery continues to be different, keeping people safe and well by being innovative in the way patients can access advice and care. Face-to-face appointments are available to all patients where there is a clinical need. Over the last year in Dorset, three million face-to-face appointments, as well as 1.5 million via telephone, have taken place. In addition, 280,000 eConsults, where patients submit their symptoms or requests to their own GP electronically, were submitted by patients, alongside 14,000 video consultations.
Our accident and emergency departments, minor injuries units and urgent treatment centre are also working extremely hard seeing more patients. There are lots of choices and we know it can be confusing. At the same time, we all need to access NHS services wisely. This is why we’ve introduced NHS 111 First to help people get the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time, by going to 111.nhs.uk or calling 111 First. Your local pharmacy will help you with self-limiting conditions.
One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic has been on delaying operations and procedures that were postponed due to the pressures on our hospitals. Across the NHS we are thinking big and working hard to catch up on the waiting-list back log, which will take time as infection control measures limit capacity in our buildings. Please make every effort to attend an appointment when you are called – sometimes this will be at short notice. If you need to cancel appointments you can’t attend, please do so in good time as this allows us to call others.
It is really important that patients, particularly the frail and elderly, do not stay in hospital any longer than they need to since it is well known that they lose muscle strength day by day, resulting in decreased mobility and longer recovery times. Allowing people to recover in familiar settings close to friends and family improves mobility more quickly, and also reduces pressure on local hospital beds. Friends and family play a key role in helping us in supporting patients recover in their own homes – and we’d like to thank everyone who is helping us in this.
As we experience such a busy summer, and plan for the coming winter, it’s more important than ever to have your continued support and understanding for your local NHS in Dorset.
Five ways you can help us help you:
- Your NHS is here for you. NHS services are open and safe to use. Consider talking to your local pharmacist as a first line of support for you or your GP if you have a health worry
- Think NHS 111 First. We’ll help you get the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time
- Helping patients recover in familiar setting. By working together with you we can help more people recover more quicky in the comfort of their own homes
- Jabs + testing = Our way out. Vaccines and regular testing are the best way to protect everyone from coronavirus so we can do the things we love, with the people we love. Please ensure you have your second dose, have your booster when you are invited, and also have your flu jab when offered
- Continue to be kind. Everyone in the NHS family – from those behind the scenes coordinating the vaccination roll out, improving services, and tackling our waiting lists to those treating patients across the NHS in primary care and in our hospitals – we are doing everything we can. Please continue to be kind
Keeping you safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19
Finally, with the easing of national restrictions, we’d like to ask for your continued support in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Dorset. It’s very important that we proceed with caution.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not over.
The current range of safety measures in NHS settings across Dorset to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep you safe will continue, including the wearing of face masks and coverings.
There’s still time to have your COVID-19 jab, and make sure you have your second dose. Please take up the offer of a COVID-19 jab, and have your second dose.
You will continue to be expected to wear a face covering in NHS settings to protect yourself and others.
COVID-19 has not gone away, so it’s important to remember the actions you can take to keep yourself and others safe. Everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious.
Professor Alastair Hutchison
Chief Medical Officer, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Infection Prevention & Control, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Forbes Watson
GP and Chair, NHS Dorset CCG
Director of Nursing & Quality, NHS Dorset CCG
Professor Paula Shobbrook
Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Infection Prevention and Control, University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Alyson O’Donnell
Chief Medical Officer, University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust
Director of Nursing, Therapies and Quality, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Faisil Sethi
Medical Director, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust
Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils