Working in Dorset
The population of Dorset is served by NHS health services that includes 98 GP practices, as well as other primary care services such as dentistry, pharmacies and opticians, three hospitals, 13 community hospitals and a range of community and mental health services. The ambulance (999) and telephone advice services (111) are provided by South Western Ambulance Services NHS Foundation Trust.
In terms of primary care services, across Dorset there are around 856 GPs working from 98 practices. Practices vary significantly in size, from single-handed GP practices to practices with 12 GPs working from one site. The number of people registered per GP also varies widely from practice to practice, ranging from under 1,000 to over 4,000 people registered to one GP (who works full time).
In terms of community and mental health services, across Dorset these are mainly provided by Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust from community hospitals and through a range of community and home based services. In addition to the 13 community hospitals there are many other community facilities across Dorset, from which essential services are delivered, including district nursing, health visiting, chiropody and occupational therapy.
The three main hospitals in Dorset – Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – provide healthcare that requires specialist skills and knowledge not available in general practice or in the community:
- Emergency care – accident and emergency (A&E) departments, and emergency admissions to hospital
- Planned and specialist care for example outpatients, diagnostic tests and planned (or elective) surgery
- Maternity (including obstetric) care and paediatrics (children’s care).
Some residents of Dorset use hospital services in neighbouring areas, especially Salisbury and Yeovil hospitals, and each year a small number of patients receive more specialist services at Southampton, Bristol, Exeter and centres further afield.
All healthcare services interface with adult and children’s social services provided by the three local authorities (Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset). Services are also provided in the form of informal carers and the many voluntary and support organisations that work across Dorset to support people with their health and social care needs.
The Health Needs
The number of people living in Dorset is growing. We’ll have more people living longer with more long-term conditions like diabetes and dementia. This will increase demand for and pressure on our health services. At the same time fewer of us are suffering heart attacks, strokes or major accidents.
In terms of health related behaviours, in the main we compare well to England, however they are still a major factor in preventable causes of ill health and early mortality; specifically smoking, smoking in pregnancy, alcohol consumption and obesity.
The vision is to provide local services that are centred around the needs of local people, with services designed around people, a greater focus on preventing ill-health and promoting good health, care delivered closer to home and services which are sustainable.
It will become increasingly important for people to stay well, avoid ill-health and better manage long-term conditions. To do this, the right information and support needs to be in place.