MORE than 750 people have been seen at the former Dorset Council HQ in Dorchester since it became an NHS facility last year.
At the Dolphin Centre in Poole the health service is reporting a similar success with its “health village” facility in the former Beales store.
A meeting of the Dorset people and health scrutiny committee on Monday heard that both had a good response from the public and were being looked on as a model for other health authorities elsewhere in the country.
It was claimed that in Dorchester some of the waiting lists for treatment at Dorset County Hospital had nearly disappeared because of the ‘pop up’ facility at South Walks House offering face to face meeting with doctors for orthopaedic and other specialist clinics.
For both units it was claimed that the new uses of the buildings had helped revitalise the adjoining shopping centres and had almost done away with waiting rooms with a patient flow designed to keep people moving through the buildings – a lesson which had been learnt from the Nightingale hospitals opened at the peak of the Covid crisis.
Both centres were also using volunteers which, for some, opened up a pathway to a career in the NHS, or for older people offered an active retirement.
The success of the clinics has led health professionals to consider whether similar ‘pop up’ health projects could be carried out elsewhere in Dorset in the future – possibly using village halls or venues in some of the market towns.
Cllr Nick Ireland said he welcomed the “health on the high street” model being developed in Dorset because it appeared to be working well and might also help attract outside funding to help local people.
Sherborne councillor Robin Legg told the meeting he welcomed the innovation but was worried that there would be a move away from the north of the county towards the south.
He was told that talks would be held with neighbouring authorities, such as Yeovil Hospital, where many Dorset people are treated, to ensure there would be no duplication, or where there would be most benefit to most people.