A PHASED re-opening of minor injuries units (MIUs) in Dorset closed during the winter surge of Covid-19 is to begin - although the Portland unit will stay shut for now.

Dorset HealthCare says Sherborne’s MIU, based at the Yeatman Hospital, will re-open five days a week from tomorrow.

But Portland and Blandford MIUs will remain closed for the time being. They will be reviewed regularly 'with a view to phasing them back into operation as soon as possible'.

The county’s other four MIUs and Weymouth’s Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) will continue as normal.

People are urged to call 111 first, rather than turn up unannounced.

Portland, Sherborne and Blandford MIUs were closed by Dorset HealthCare in January due to staff difficulties linked to Covid-19 related absences.

With cases again on the rise, this remains a factor Dorset HealthCare says - but staffing of the units has also been affected by a number of retirements, plus ongoing 'recruitment challenges'. This means it could take a while before all units are back to full strength.

Jane Elson, Dorset HealthCare’s Service Director for Integrated Community Services, said: “It has been exceptionally difficult to recruit the staff we need to fill vacancies, and there remains a significant degree of Covid-related staff absences.

“We need to ensure we can provide a safe, reliable and robust service for people who need urgent care and treatment, and cannot do so across all our units if we don’t have the necessary staffing levels in place."

As of Friday, April 1, Dorset’s MIUs and UTC will be open as below:

• Weymouth Hospital Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) – 8am-8pm, Monday-Sunday

• Bridport Hospital – 9am-6pm, Monday-Sunday

• Swanage Hospital - 8am-8pm, Monday-Sunday

• Westminster Memorial Hospital (Shaftesbury) – 9am-6pm, Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm, Saturday-Sunday

• Victoria Hospital (Wimborne) – 8am-8pm, Monday-Sunday

• Yeatman Hospital (Sherborne) – 9am-6pm, Monday-Thursday, 10am-4pm, Sunday

• Blandford and Portland hospitals – closed, with patients being accommodated at Weymouth and extended hours at Wimborne where a face-to-face appointment is needed.

If you have an ailment or injury that requires urgent care, call 111 or visit www.111.nhs.uk

Appointments at all of the MIUs and the UTC can now be booked by 111 on your behalf where appropriate.

For anything life-threatening, always call 999 for immediate assistance.