Hospitals in Dorchester, Poole and Bournemouth have declared Critical Incidents in the last 24 hours and continue to be stretched more than ever due to extreme demand.

To ensure vital services are available for those who need them most over the upcoming long weekend, people are being asked to party responsibly and to know where to go for medical help if they need it.

Think pharmacy or 111

Pharmacists and their teams are an essential part of the NHS and can provide you with medicines for a range of minor illnesses including coughs and colds.

To find your nearest pharmacy and check opening hours visit

If you do become ill, go to or call 111 for help or advice. Due to high demand, it may take longer than usual to get through on the phone, but please be assured your call will be answered and if you need treatment, you will be directed to the most appropriate service which may be your local Emergency Department (ED) or Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).

If face-to-face support is required, an appointment will be booked at a local MIU or Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC). While you can simply turn up at an MIU or UTC, you may be offered an appointment later that day (or the next) or signposted elsewhere, depending on your needs.

Minor Injuries Units can help with injuries that are not life-threatening such as sprains, minor burns and broken bones.

In an emergency think 999

If you or someone you are with has an emergency or is in a life-threatening situation, don’t hesitate – call 999.

Demand for emergency care is exceedingly high and you may experience a long wait, so it is important to only call 999 in a genuine emergency. If the condition of the patient is not life-threatening you may be directed to alternative services.

If appropriate and you are prioritised an ambulance will be despatched, however please do not call back to ask for an estimated time of arrival. This information cannot be provided, and it blocks lines for other callers.

If it is possible for you or someone you are with to make your own way to the right service, you may be asked do so.

Think home not hospital

Not everyone will be able to be home to see in the new year, but if you, a family member, or friend are being admitted to hospital, start to think about what will happen when you leave.

Please think ahead of any changes that could be made at home or any family and friends who might help to get you or your relative home as soon as possible.

Due to the extreme demands that hospitals continue to face, people may be asked to transfer to an alternative care setting out of hospital after their treatment, to start their recovery.

This is necessary so that space can be made available for the next person who needs hospital treatment.

Anyone who is likely to be affected will be informed at the earliest opportunity, and staff will work with families to support any decisions that need to be made.

Think about your drink – enjoy New Year’s Eve but please be responsible

It is common to see a rise in alcohol-related incidents at this time of year as people get together to celebrate, however with demand for services already extremely high, if you are drinking alcohol please do so responsibly and if you aren’t drinking, please look out for those who are and keep them safe.