Newsletter November 2021

Patient Participation Group Newsletter


Covid Booster Vaccinations

The Practice is unable to hold many more sessions before Christmas due to the availability of The Exchange and getting vaccinators and administrative staff, because of current pressures on the Practice.

The Government has enabled patients to book a month earlier, however clinically it is still suggested that all patients wait for the 6 months and 1 day before having a booster. If you are due a vaccine, you can book through the national booking service by telephone 119 or email for mass vaccination sites.


This may be quicker than waiting for an invitation from the Practice.



Winter Pressures

The NHS would like to ask people for their continuing support in accessing NHS services wisely, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues this autumn and winter.

Hospital emergency departments are under extreme pressure. If you’re unwell and are unsure about where to go, visit or call 111. Please be patient and choose the right care. Get the right treatment, at the right time, in the right place.

At this very busy time, your 111 call may take a little longer to answer than usual but staff will get to you as quickly as possible.

For ongoing or non-urgent concerns please contact your local pharmacist or GP practice. Call 999 in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

By using the right services at the right time - help the NHS to help you. Thank you.

Right care, right time, right place

Injured or Unwell? Use the right service

Self Care

  • Grazed knees
  • Sore throat
  • Coughs & colds



  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Aches & pains
  • Bites & stings

NHS 111 


  • or call 111

Advice and support 24 hours a day 7 days a week



Call your GP for symptoms that won't go away

Minor Injury Unit

Urgent but not life-threatening 

  • Sprains
  • Fractures
  • Burns



  • Unconscious
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe burns




Asthma Inhalers

The NHS, in common with everyone else, is trying to help the environment and reduce their carbon footprint. Currently, 4% of NHS greenhouse gas emissions come from Metered-dose Asthma inhalers, such as Ventolin and Salbutamol.

The gas hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) which is used as a propellant to squirt the medicine out of the inhaler has been found to emit levels equal to up to 10 kg (22 lbs.) of carbon dioxide into the air over the course of its 200-puff lifetime. The worst emitted the equivalent of more than 36 kg (79 lbs) of CO2. Another report claimed that every 200 puffs emitted the same amount of greenhouse gas as driving a car for 360 miles

This is why patients who use Ventolin or Salbutamol, over the next few weeks, will find a new inhaler has been dispensed to them. It’s called Salamol CFC-Free Inhaler.

Kay Green, Practice Pharmacist says “Salamol inhalers contain exactly the same drug, in exactly the same form and exactly the same amount, it’s just the propellant that's changed as it's much more environmentally friendly. Patients should notice no difference when using these inhalers”


Veteran Friendly Practice

The Practice is accredited as veteran-friendly through the Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) scheme and is committed to doing all they can to continue to meet the expectations set out in the NHS ‘Healthcare for the Armed Forces Community: A Forward View’ released in May of this year. They commit to the following:

  • Ask patients registering with the surgery if they have ever served in the Armed Forces.
  • Code it on the GP computer system.
  • Have a clinical lead for veterans in the surgery.
  • This clinical lead is required to undertake dedicated training, attend training events (RCGP or other provider), stay up to date with the latest research and innovations and ensure that the practice is meeting the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant. They should also be available to provide advice to colleagues, as well as possibly seeing veterans themselves.

The Vale Pantry was set up in Sturminster Newton in 2020 following a need identified through the Practice. Run entirely with volunteers, the Pantry offers memberships to any family who struggle financially and who have had to cut back on food in order to try and make ends meet.

Members of the Pantry may visit once a week and pay £6 on each visit, before choosing the food they would like for the week ahead. The variety of foods available include fresh fruit & veg, chilled and frozen produce including meats, fish, cheese etc., and store cupboard essentials. A typical weekly shop taken home is worth in the region of £25 - £50. More than 500 people are benefitting from the Pantry, every week.


As the Pantry is run entirely by volunteers, more help is needed.

  • They need someone who could take on a secretarial role for Trustee Meetings.
  • They need help in asking people to do their online shopping through Easy Giving and choosing The Vale Pantry as their nominated charity, (many retailers participate in this scheme and the retailer then will give a very small donation – but if lots of people do this – it will add up)
  • They need help in putting together a robust ‘Friends of the Vale Pantry’ – for people to make a small monthly contribution, they can claim Gift Aid and ensure they are sustainable.

If you can help in any way, please contact Carole Jones  via their website


Carers’ Clinic

The Practice has resumed their monthly Carers’ Clinic at Sturminster Medical Centre and intend to hold an equivalent clinic at Abbey View Surgery in the New Year.

Each clinic provides six one hour appointments split into two, a general health check provided by one of the Nursing Team (Carers often neglect their own health due to prioritising the health needs of the person they are caring for) and a half hour chat with Carers’ Lead, Claire Lockett to offer useful information about relevant support, local organisations and services.

The Practice makes annual phone calls to those on the Carers’ Register in their birthday month to check that they are managing. Carers’ Clinic appointments will be offered where it is considered appropriate, however, if a Carer feels they need an appointment they can contact the Practice and our Carers’ Lead will respond. By promoting the Carers’ Clinic, it’s hoped to raise awareness and to offer an appointment to anyone who provides any amount of care and support not already on the Carers Register.

PPG and Health Champion volunteers are supporting the Carers’ Clinic to welcome those attending and if required, sitting with the cared-for person whilst the Carer attends their appointment.

If you are a Carer and have not yet had an appointment, please contact the Practice to make one.


A Message from the Practice Manager

I know some of our patients are waiting longer than we would like to get through to us, and this is making them upset and angry with us. This is causing real problems for us as we have lost good staff in the last month because of the abuse, bad language and anger that the team receive. I can't let this continue without doing something, so I want you to understand a little more about what our patients can do to help us to alleviate the long waits and the demands on us.

I have looked at our telephone statistics over the last 12 months and I want to offer you some tips contacting us, and other organisations that might better help you.

  • Our busiest times are 8 -11, this is consistent across all days. If you are looking for an appointment on the same day (for a matter that cannot be dealt with by a local pharmacy or should be seen at A&E) it’s best to ring as early as you can. If your matter is not urgent, please ring later in the day
  • Our Patient Services team have had training from our clinicians and are able to work with you to find the right support for your issue. This will mean that when you get through, they will ask additional questions. This is to help you and we would ask that you are as honest as possible with them. It may also mean that they direct you to another service not in the practice, for example the pharmacy or the minor eye service.
  • Our phone system means that you can now queue and will only get the engaged tone if there are 25 calls already in the system, this also means that you may be 20th in the queue, rather than hearing the engaged tone for half an hour, we get through all calls as quickly as we can.
  • The average call time for incoming calls is 8 minutes 10 seconds, this is for all calls from patients. We try and spend time with everyone to ensure they get the quality of service that we would like to receive when we phone our practices, again this means that it may take us longer to get to you.
  • It would really help us if you have a pen and paper (or electronic diary open) when you call us to make an appointment. Some of the calls that we receive are for patients checking their appointment time.
  • Your local pharmacy is the best place to go for any minor ailments, for coughs and colds, rashes, vaginal thrush,headaches, back pain or things like viruses.

Please do not be upset if you are directed to them after you have waited on the phone to speak to us, it is not the fault of our reception team, its clinically the right place to go.

  • We can’t help with Covid Vaccination passports. These should all be directed to 119.
  • If you have an injury that you think might need stitches, or an X-ray, you need to go to A&E. We cannot stitch or request urgent X-rays and you are not wasting the hospital’s time - if you need them, you must go there.
  • We are sorry we cannot take requests for prescriptions over the telephone. This isn’t because we don’t want to help, it’s so that we know exactly what you want and at what dose. Medication is complicated and it’s not safe to request it verbally.
  • Many things that you ring us for can be done over the NHSApp which can be accessed online. You can look at your records, order your medication and find out the result of your tests. This saves you and us time. If you have this facility, please use it as it frees up capacity for those that don’t.
  • You can also use our secure online contact form.

Our doors are open and patients are coming in, but to keep everyone as safe as possible, phoning the surgery is the best way.

Finally if you are unsure if it’s us or the hospital or somewhere else that you need to contact, you can ring 111 or use the symptom checker on line

Our call volumes have increased over the last year by 30%. We are looking at our staffing levels and the way that we answer the calls, with your help doing some of the above steps we hope to be able to improve things for our patients and staff. What we know is key is that we must ask you to help us so that we can continue to give you the best service when you need us.

This story is sadly not just about the Blackmore Vale Partnership, colleagues across the country are having the same issues with demand and staffing levels, so please share this information with anyone you think might find it useful.

Sara Froud Managing Partner