Local partners providing health and care services across Dorset are encouraging people to seek and get the help they need during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The call – part of Dorset’s #hereforyou campaign – follows concerns that people may not be seeking the help they need for themselves and their families because of COVID-19.
And the aim is to reassure people that whilst the way services are being delivered may be different, patients should still access them when they need to, and not delay.
Whilst GPs in Dorset have changed the way they work – making the most of available technology including online consultations and video conferencing – patients should still talk to their GP when they feel they have a medical need and the most appropriate consultation will be offered to patients.
Your GP will be carefully advising patients individually on any routine or urgent procedures and blood tests that should go ahead and are doing all they can to ensure that if patients are brought to the surgery, it will be done in as safe a way as possible.
If any person has a symptom that could be suggestive of a stroke or heart attack, or could be a sign of a cancer, it is essential that they don’t delay seeking advice.
It is also really important that parents of children should still ensure that their children are immunised by accessing GP immunisation services during this time.
Mums to be must also ensure that they keep scheduled appointments with their midwife and if you are worried with anything to do with yourself and your baby; for example, your baby is not moving as much as normal, please do not delay and get in touch with your local maternity service. Meanwhile, please contact your health visitor if you have questions or concerns and have children under five.
Weymouth’s Urgent Treatment Centre and Minor Injuries Units (MIUs) at Blandford, Bridport, Portland, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Swanage and Wimborne hospitals are still running seven days a week, but by appointment only.
You can no longer walk into these services. If you have an ailment or injury which requires urgent care, please call your local MIU or 01305 762541 and you will be given advice or booked in for a face-to-face appointment at the appropriate sites.
Hospital emergency departments are also here for you. For serious conditions and injuries and emergencies, please call 999 as normal. For anything else, call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk.
In common with other businesses and organisations, pharmacies and opticians will be adhering to social distancing so whilst you may have to wait longer than normal to get the help you need, you can get it. If you need medicines, your GP will be asking you to nominate a pharmacy so that the prescription can be sent electronically for you. You can save time by getting on-line access through your surgery to request prescriptions.
Find a pharmacy and check opening times at https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-pharmacy/ We do however ask you to be patient, and not to over order medicines.
Dr Karen Kirkham, Dorset GP and Integrated Care System Clinical Lead & Assistant Clinical Chair, NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The current guidelines from the Government ask you to stay at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and this remains the best way of reducing transmission of the virus.
“However whilst people are rightly concerned about contracting COVID-19, we want people living in and around Dorset to seek the medical help they feel they need, and not delay and potentially store up more problems.
“Although the way the services are delivered have changed, we want to be clear that the health services continue to be for you if you need help and we are doing everything we can to reduce risks to those asked to attend appointments or clinics..”
Professor Alastair Hutchison, Medical Director for Dorset County Hospital, said: “It is vital that the public continues to access urgent and emergency health services when needed, despite the current pandemic.
“For some patients, delaying treatment can have serious repercussions later on. Our message is that hospitals are safe, ready and here for you if you need emergency care.”
Dr Steve Tomkins, Medical Director for Dorset HealthCare, said: “We have had to temporarily reduce or stop some of our usual services following Government advice, but it’s important for people in Dorset to know that we are still here for those who need us most.
“Support for the most vulnerable people in our communities, or those in need of urgent care, is available across Dorset.
“We have changed the way we provide some community, children and families and mental health services, but they are still here for you.”
Dr Sarnia Ward, GP and Primary Care Clinical Lead for the Dorset Cancer Partnership, said: “If you have symptoms that you are worried could be cancer it is important you still seek advice about this.
“Please contact your GP surgery. The ‘Cancer Matters’ website has more information https://cancermatterswessex.nhs.uk/
Meanwhile, Liz Plastow, Head of Safeguarding at NHS Dorset CCG, said: “If you or anyone else you know are acutely ill or have an underlying health condition and need help, it is important to know that services are open for business as usual. However, there is also a need to be aware of those who may be suffering in silence, some of our most vulnerable in society.
“If you are aware of any one you know who you think could be struggling and because of lockdown are not able to access their usual support systems, do not be afraid to call them, ask how they are and if they need anything, just as you would if they had a physical disability or were in social-isolation.
“Alternatively, if you are unable to do this but you are concerned about an individual or family that may need help, contact the local authority or police for advice and information.”
For more information or to report a concern visit www.pdscp.co.uk