A message of thanks is being issued to people for their support and understanding for primary care in Dorset after rising to the challenge of COVID-19.

General practice in Dorset has been open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, however the way people contact their GP surgery continues to be different to keep people safe and well, by being innovative in the way patients can access advice and care.

Please be assured, NHS services have a range of measures in place to keep you safe from COVID-19 including regular cleaning of patient areas and social distancing.

Face-to-face appointments are available to all patients where there is a clinical need.  Practices will continue to offer online consultations and video consultations, as well as telephone consultations. These can be convenient and flexible ways to receive healthcare.  Where patients need to be seen by a health professional face-to-face, this will be arranged.

Over the last year in Dorset, three million face-to-face appointments, as well as one and a half million via telephone have taken place. In addition, 280,000 eConsults were submitted by patients alongside 14,000 video consultations.

Primary care has also played a central role in the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine programme – delivering more than 84% of the 729,422 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that have now been delivered in Dorset, which is amongst the highest in the country.

Local Dorset GP Dr Forbes Watson, and NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group Chair, said: “We’d like to thank the public for their support and understanding for primary care in Dorset, as well as everyone working in primary care who are doing a fantastic job in caring for our local communities. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, primary care has risen remarkably to the challenge to continue to deliver core patient services and the vaccine programme.

“We are still open and here for you. We are continuing to provide services as we have been doing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need medical advice or treatment, we are here for you to address things quickly and conveniently.

“COVID-19 has changed how patients access their GP and other primary care services. The pandemic has super charged the use of remote consultations in primary care. These are preferred by many however face to face consultations remain an option where needed.

“Primary care has also played a key part in the roll out of the vaccine programme across Dorset – protecting hundreds of thousands of people with the life-saving jab.”

The call comes as a new campaign is launched by NHS Dorset CCG to thank primary care for everything that they do and communicate further information about how to access primary care services wisely.