Help needed to manage "exceptional" health and care demands

11th February 2022

Dorset is experiencing exceptional demand and seasonal pressure on health and social care, with the impact of COVID-19 adding to the general pressures we experience in winter.

NHS and local authority social workers across Dorset are working tirelessly to keep services running to support us all – keeping our loved ones, families, neighbours, and local communities safe and well.

We would like to ask for your support to help us. You can help in the following ways: 

  • MicrosoftTeams-image (36).pngSupport loved ones to leave hospital so that they can be more comfortable and recover more quickly at home. The support of relatives and friends can be important in enabling patients who are medically ready to leave hospital.
  • 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.  If you’re unwell and are unsure about where to go, visit 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.
  • Contact your local pharmacist or GP practice for ongoing or minor health issues.
  • Only ever call 999 in a medical emergency – this is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
  • Get your jabs – protect yourself and support your local services by getting your first, second, and booster COVID-19 vaccine doses. For a full list of COVID-19vaccine sites, visit

Hard-working teams pulled out all the stops to accelerate the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccination booster programme in December, while continuing to deliver care.

Seasonal pressures and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic mean that there is a very limited number of beds available in hospitals and care homes across Dorset, and there are high numbers of staff who are off work, either with COVID-19 symptoms or isolating.

The Dorset health and care organisations are working closely together to ensure that patients are safe, getting the right treatment in the right place, at the right time, and returning home as soon as they are able to.

We are:

  • Working together. Teams across health and social care continue to work ever closer together to support patients, identifying suitable care so that people can recover in the comfort of their own homes.
  • Running a new care hotel. We recently opened a new care hotel in Bournemouth to free up beds at University Hospitals Dorset. This is a temporary measure to help patients who are medically ready to leave but need support in the short term before returning home.
  • Getting people vaccinated. We’re continuing our expanded COVID-19 vaccination programme with walk-in appointments still available for those yet to have their first, second and booster jabs.
  • Thinking Big. We are working collaboratively to deliver innovative solutions, such as the recent launch of the brand-new outpatient assessment clinic @Dorset Health Village, a purpose-built centre on the top floor of Beales Department store, and the new temporary Outpatient Centre at the South Walks House council offices in Dorchester. These are helping to tackle hospital waiting lists and increasing life-saving screening under Dorset’s Think Big initiative.
  • Supporting frontline staff. Staff continue to be redeployed into frontline roles to help ease pressures.

Dr Forbes Watson, a local GP and Chair of NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We’d like to thank all our hard-working teams for their resilience and continued efforts to support Dorset people in these challenging circumstances.

“Teams across the health and care system in Dorset are doing all they can to keep people safe while tackling winter pressures and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’d like to ask for the continuing support of Dorset people in using NHS services wisely. Relatives of those in hospital also play a valued role, and we’d like to thank those who are supporting their loved ones to leave hospital so that they can be more comfortable and recover much more quickly in their own homes.

“Also, if you haven’t had your first, second and booster COVID-19 jabs or have changed your mind, it’s not too late.”

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