THE first residents have been seen at the new NHS outpatients assessment clinic in Poole’s Dolphin Centre.

More than 100 patients attended breast-screening, dermatology and ophthalmology appointments on Thursday.

And Covid booster jabs are also now available from the ‘health village’. They can be booked via the national NHS website.

Patients, staff and volunteers described their experience at the clinic, designed and built in a few months on the second floor of Beales department store, as ‘brilliant’.

Barry Kraushaar, 83, of Poole had been waiting almost two years for a follow-up appointment after an eye operation.

He said: “It was quite a relief to be seen after all this time. It was all very quick and smooth. This is a great facility for the community.”

The clinic has been set up to tackle the huge backlog in waiting lists that have built up during the pandemic.

Only two patients had to wait for a maximum of five minutes to be seen.

Tens of thousands of people will be seen in the clinic which has been initially set up for three years but could be there longer.

Mammographer Charlotte Gibbons who normally works at nearby Poole Hospital said: “We have had some really great feedback today. It’s a great environment and so easy to get to.

Bournemouth Echo: Charlotte GibbonsCharlotte Gibbons

“It’s all very social distanced and patients do not have to wait for ages or queue to get in a truck in a car park.

“One lady told me she was meeting a friend for coffee and then going shopping afterwards.”

Directorate manager outpatients for University Hospitals Dorset, Michelle Roberts told the Echo: “It has been a fantastic day. We have had so many positive comments.”

“What an amazing achievement to get this up and running in such a short space of time.”

The initiative is part of the local NHS Think Big programme to transform how and where services are delivered, post pandemic.