PEOPLE are being urged to help reduce unnecessary pressure on hospitals in Dorset as they have been facing “unprecedented demand” recently.

There was a spike in visits to A&E departments in Poole and Bournemouth over the Easter bank holiday weekend, and the hospitals have remained under pressure this week.

Staff at Poole’s emergency department have dealt with a third more patients than usual, while hospital bosses at Bournemouth have experienced the same levels of demand as the peak month of January.

Now the public is being urged to help decrease the demand on hospitals by choosing the right services for their needs, including minor injuries units, urgent treatment centres, pharmacies and GP surgeries.

BJ Waltho, associate director of operations at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Over the Easter bank holiday and into this week we’ve seen unprecedented demand for this time of year – it’s been akin to the kind of busyness we see in January.

“The increased level of tourism over the weekend has contributed to this increased pressure. Our teams have coped exceptionally well with the demand with the support of our partner organisations.”

Libby Beesley, emergency preparedness officer for Poole Hospital, said: “In common with others hospitals in the area, Poole Hospital has seen a large number of attendances to our emergency department in recent days, partly as a result of an increase in visitor numbers to the area over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

“Usually our emergency department will see around 180 patients a day, yet over a sustained number of days attendances have been in excess of 240, including a high number of ‘walk-in’ patients.

“Many of these patients are acutely unwell and required admission to hospital, meaning that further admissions become harder to place in a timely way.

“We work hard to ensure that patients are seen as soon as possible and we ask that people consider the most appropriate way of accessing treatment, including walk-in units, minor injuries units, pharmacies, GPs and the NHS 111 service.”

Dr Simon Watkins, chair of the Urgent and Emergency Care Clinical Delivery Group at NHS Dorset CCG, advises anyone in doubt over where to go to call 111.

“Speak to a trained adviser who will point you in the right direction,” he said.

Advice from the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group:

Pharmacies can advise you on how to treat a variety of minor illnesses or conditions. They have private consultation rooms so you can speak in confidence and be advised if you need to see a GP.

If you need urgent care for issues that aren’t life threatening, such as a sprain, minor burn or skin infection, search to find your nearest minor injuries unit or urgent treatment centre before heading to A&E.

If you’re affected by a mental health issue, talk to your GP. You can call NHS 111 to access the GP out of hours’ service over any upcoming bank holidays. If you’re already a service user, directly contact your community mental health team.

Remember, the Retreat is now open in Hahnemann Road, Bournemouth between 4.30pm and midnight, Monday to Sunday, where you can drop in, talk to peer support workers and access help. Even if it’s just somebody to talk to, make sure you know what services are available in Dorset. Visit for further information.