THE future of some Dorset minor injuries units may be at long-term risk because patients are finding it difficult to access them – according to a councillor.

Three units remained closed on safety grounds during the early period of the pandemic at Portland, Blandford and Sherborne – re-opening in late June, but with a new system to book appointments put in place. The units had all been a ‘walk-in’ service prior to the pandemic.

Cllr Jon Andrews told a meeting yesterday that the system, which involves a call to the 111 number before coming in, was putting people off and often proving difficult to navigate.

“Before we know it I’m worried that will be closing the minor injuries units. They will tell us that nobody is using them, but nobody can get into them,” he told the Dorset people and health scrutiny committee.

Dorset Echo: Yeatman Hospital, SherborneYeatman Hospital, Sherborne

Cllr Andrews told how a Sherborne resident who recently needed help for a family member, called 111 to get an appointment at the Sherborne unit, but after half an hour on the phone was told that the only place he could go to was Weymouth, almost an hour’s drive away.

“Instead he went into Yeovil Hospital where they had to wait four and a half hours,” said Cllr Andrews.

“I am really concerned that people can’t get into the minor injury units because of 111 and they might try and close them again… they are a vital service within our health structure in Dorset and we should do all we can to maintain them and open them as they used to do,” he said.

Committee chairman Gill Taylor has called for an update on the situation at the next meeting in response to the claims.

Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said at the time of re-opening in June that arrangements for their operation would be monitored and reviewed. Staffing difficulties had been experienced prior to the pandemic at the minor injury units in both Sherborne and Portland.

Other minor injury units operate at Bridport, Shaftesbury, Swanage, Wimborne and Weymouth.