More appointments now than before COVID

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There were nearly half a million general practice appointments offered across Dorset in November 2023, according to the latest figures published by NHS England. This shows an increase of more than a 50,000 more appointments made available in comparison with the same period in 2019, prior to COVID-19, a substantial increase in demand. Furthermore, also in November 2023, more than 163,000 people were given same day appointments.

Dr Forbes Watson, Dorset GP and Chair of the Dorset General Practice Alliance said, “My colleagues and I, including healthcare practitioners, nurses and our receptionists, are busier than ever.

“We know timely access to general practice appointments is incredibly important and our practices are doing all they can to see more patients, as quickly as possible.

“We want to thank people for their understanding and compassion towards our general practice staff, who are here to help you.

“Finally, for those of you who take the time to cancel unwanted appointments, you are helping free up appointments for people in your local community who really do need our services to stay well.”

As winter pressures continue to build, patients should also consider a wide range of other available NHS services as an alternative to visiting a GP surgery or emergency department. You can use NHS111 online at, via the NHS App or by calling 111, if you have an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do.

Pharmacists can also give treatment advice for a range of minor illnesses and can tell you if you still need to see a doctor. If you are in a life-threatening emergency, you should call 999 or go to A&E.

The NHS has been raising awareness of the support available with community health teams, including pharmacists, mental health practitioners, paramedics, physios, and social prescribing link workers now available across the South West.

The NHS delivery plan for recovering access to primary care, announced by the NHS in May, sets an ambition of 9 in 10 GP practices offering patients access to their records through the NHS App by March 2024. The ambitious blueprint, which aims to make it quicker and easier for millions of people across the country to access healthcare, also aims to free up to 10 million GP appointments a year by next winter while giving the public more choice in how they access care.