With the winter months just around the corner, local health and care partners are reassuring people that plans are in place to cope with seasonal pressures.

Dr Simon Watkins is a local GP and chair of the Urgent Care Group “As a healthcare system we never stop planning for winter because we know we are going to face increased attendances to all of our NHS establishments, for example through increased respiratory illnesses, or people having trips and falls due to the bad weather.

Throughout the year we carry out exercises to test out situations that may occur, such as shortage of beds or ward closures, and hold regular conference telephone calls which allow all the partners to raise any issues and try to pre-empt problems before they occur.

Whilst we try to plan for most situations there are simple things people can do to help such as making sure they choose the most appropriate service or supporting those members of the family who need to be discharged from hospital if they are unfortunate enough to be admitted.

We understand that there are sometimes complex situations, but during the winter when there is bad weather and pressures increase what may seem like simple things can have a really positive effect on services and help make sure they are available for the people who are most in need.”

Make sure you get your flu jab

The flu virus strikes in winter and it can be far more serious than you think.

Flu can lead to serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and it can be deadly, that’s why the flu jab is free if you’re aged 65 or over, or if you have a long-term health condition.

You can find more information at www.nhs.uk/getflujab.

Visit your local pharmacist as soon as you start to feel unwell

Pharmacists can advise you on how to treat minor illnesses or conditions that you might otherwise go to your GP for. It’s fast, confidential (a lot of pharmacies have a room where you can speak to someone in private), and means you could be in, out and on your way to feeling better in no time.

There are over 150 pharmacies in Dorset – find your nearest one via www.nhs.uk.

Make the best use of your local services

Primary Care appointments in Dorset are now available between 8am and 8pm seven days a week, including Bank Holidays. Appointments can be booked either by your local practice or by the 24/7 urgent care number 111.

When you call 111 you will be assessed by a member of the team. If you need it, you may be offered a face-to-face appointment at a time and venue that suits you.

Your practice can also make you an appointment. This may not be with your usual GP, however you will see the most appropriate health professional to suit your needs, for example a local GP, nurse or advanced nurse practitioner.

In an emergency call 999 or attend your nearest Emergency Department (ED also known as A&E).

Emergency Departments are situated locally in Dorchester, Poole, and Bournemouth.

A short film on how the Our Dorset partners prepare for winter is available via our case studies page.

For more information on how to stay well during the winter months visit www.staywelldorset.nhs.uk.

Further information

Our Dorset is a partnership of all NHS and local authority organisations in Dorset, working together to help local people have healthier, more fulfilling lives.

  • Borough of Poole
  • Bournemouth Borough Council
  • Dorset County Council
  • Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust
  • NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Public Health Dorset
  • The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust