From 21 June, in line with national plans for lifting lockdown, they will operate on a booked appointments system, taking learning from the lockdown experience.
Since March 2020, the units at Blandford, Portland and Sherborne have been temporarily closed. While this will have affected those communities, people could continue to access MIUs in Bridport, Shaftesbury, Swanage, Wimborne and Weymouth – with longer opening hours at Shaftesbury and Wimborne.
The service has been carrying out telephone assessments initially, with in-person appointments booked only if needed. This has helped avoid crowded waiting rooms and meant that people know exactly when they will be seen.
The temporary arrangements have:
- reduced the risk of COVID transmission through busy waiting areas
- provided support for people without the need for them to leave home
- enabled prescriptions to be collected at local pharmacies and so avoided unnecessary travel
- helped avoid unplanned closures due to staff absences during the pandemic
- continued to provide a service to relieve pressure on local emergency departments and GP surgeries.
With national restrictions now gradually being eased, Dorset HealthCare is planning for all MIUs to revert to their pre-COVID opening hours from 21 June – but with appointments being pre-booked at all locations, following telephone assessments.
This supports the ‘no waiting room’ approach being proposed nationally and means patients can be triaged and treated remotely without making an unnecessary journey. If they need a face-to-face appointment they can be seen at a nominated time.
Working in partnership with the 111 phone/online urgent care service, this will help people to access the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
“We have adapted our urgent care services very rapidly over the last year and learned a huge amount about how people use them,” said Jane Elson, Dorset HealthCare’s service director for Integrated Community Services. “We’ve all had to change the way we do things in response to the pandemic and we know this has caused disruption and concern for local people.
“We’re delighted that we can now plan to re-open services which had to close temporarily in line with the easements of lockdown, and look forward to continuing to support local people and continuously improve services for the future.”
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