Residents and visitors to Dorset are being asked to stop and think when it comes to getting medical help over what is expected to be another busy bank holiday.

Choosing the right health services will support the NHS over the weekend.

Our hospital emergency departments continue to be under extreme pressure and although figures show that Covid-19 cases are beginning to level off, it is still with us and having a large impact on staffing levels.

With another busy weekend ahead and an expected increase in visitors to the area, local health and care partners in the county are asking everyone to think about the most appropriate service for them before they seek help.

Seven ways you can support the NHS: 

Use NHS services wisely to get the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time. Our hospital emergency departments are under extreme pressure.

Think NHS 111. If you have an urgent need that cannot wait until you can access your GP visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111.   We’ll do our very best to answer your call as quickly as possible though it may take a little longer due to the current demand. Please be patient and kind when you speak to our teams.

Speak to your GP where you live if you are visiting Dorset. Contact your own GP practice for support or advice on your ongoing or minor health issues.

Get prepared. Contact your own pharmacist or GP practice for ongoing or minor health issues or to get your repeat prescriptions – make use of online services such as eConsult and remote consultations.

Use Digital Health services as an on-demand alternative to in person services.

Covid-19 restrictions have ended but cases are still very high. Stay at home if you are unwell with Covid-19 or experiencing symptoms of any infectious illness.

  • Get vaccinated– for the latest information visit dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/covid-19-vaccination-service
  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors– meeting outdoors is safer
  • Consider wearing a face covering
  • Stay at home and avoid contact with others if you’re feeling unwell to avoid passing Covid-19 and other infectious diseases on to other people, particularly those who are most vulnerable
  • Wash your hands regularly and cover coughs and sneezes

Only ever call 999 in a medical emergency– this is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

Dr Forbes Watson, local Dorset GP and Chair of the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Please stop and think this weekend if you need medical help.

“The NHS and its partners are under continued pressure as demand remains incredibly high and at the same time Covid-19 continues to impact local services.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure services remain available to everyone in Dorset when they need them. By using them appropriately you can really support both us, and those people who need our help”.