Despite the decrease in cases of COVID-19, local health services are still under huge pressure meaning it is as important as ever that you make the right decision if you need care over the Easter weekend.

If you have an urgent medical need and are not sure where to go think 111 first.

NHS 111 first is available 24/7 and advisors can direct you to the correct service – for example a minor injuries unit, dentist or local pharmacy. If you need urgent care they can also arrange a time for you to attend the local emergency department. Where possible please use the online service 111.nhs.uk, to also help ease the pressure on the service.

Pharmacies can help with minor illnesses such as coughs and aches and pains, they can also help you get the care you need if symptoms suggest something more serious.

Please don’t go to your local pharmacy if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 – visit 111.nhs.uk. In common with the rest of the healthcare system, pharmacies are currently under huge pressure, working round the clock to make sure customer get the medicines they need, so please be patient if you are required to wait and please observe social distancing guidance.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minor Injuries Units (MIUs) have moved to providing telephone support and only offering face-to-face appointments where strictly necessary.

If you have an ailment or injury which requires urgent care, please call 111 or 01305 762541 and you will be given advice or – if necessary – booked in for a face-to-face appointment at the appropriate site. For more information on MIUs visit www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk.

If you have regular medications – repeat prescriptions – and are running out, please make sure you request them earlier than normal to allow for the long weekend.

If you or someone you are with is in a life-threatening situation, don’t hesitate call 999 or attend your local Emergency Department.

Local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Dr Karen Kirkham said “It has been an extraordinary year for health services with demand being at an all-time high, and although we are now seeing a decrease in COVID cases and related admissions to hospital we are asking people to continue to help local services by making the right choice when they need care.

“Please only use 999 or your emergency department in a genuine life threatening situation, for everything else please either call or go online to 111 whether our trained teams will direct you to the right place for your care into booked appointments, should this be needed.

“As we look forward to the summer and the easing of restrictions we are also reminding everyone, whether or not you have been vaccinated to stick to the rules and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the increased risk posed to those who haven’t yet had their jab.

“We have come this far by working together to protect each other and we need to continue watching out for each other at this time and not let the prospect of a better summer slip from our grasp.”

Whatever you are doing please stick to the current guidance around COVID-19 – this is available at www.gov.uk.