Choosing the right NHS service 


Choosing well is about making the right choice for you, your friends and family. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to go, who to see and how to get there.


Accident & Emergency / 999

As the name suggests, you should only go to A&E or call 999 if immediate emergency care is needed.

But A&E departments say that around 4 in every 10 people who go to A&E don’t need to – wasting valuable time and resources needed for real emergencies.

It is often very obvious if someone is seriously ill and needs immediate emergency care.

An emergency is 'a critical or life-threatening situation'.

Please help us to help you by only using A&E if it is a very real emergency.

Hospitals in Bournemouth and Poole area with A&E departments


Emergency Dental Treatment

Patients can ring 111. This service is available 24 hours a day.

During normal working hours, patients can call the PALS Helpline on 01202 448499, or the Dental Helpline on 01202 854443.

A wide range of general health information is available on Freeview, channel 108.

Search here for your local dentist

How to contact an Out of Hours Dentist

For urgent dental care out of hours, call 0845 7010401.

Further information / guidance available at Dorset CCG


Physiotherapy Service - Self Referral

Patients can now self-refer for NHS physiotherapy services without seeing a GP first.

A referral form can be found at where there is also lots of information about the service.

This service is only available to patients 16 years and over.


Emergency Contraception

How to get help if you have had sex:

  • without a condom
  • had an accident where a condom has split
  • forgotten to take your contraceptive pill
  • have suffered with sickness and/or diarrhoea whilst taking the contraceptive pill

Contact a family doctor as soon as possible (i.e. within 72 hours/three days.)

Free Emergency Contraception is available throughout pharmacies, community contraception and sexual health clinics, GP practices and local GP Out of Hours services. To contact the GP Emergency Out of Hours Service telephone: 0845 600 10 13 .

Contraception and Sexual Health Advice is available along with free condoms and pregnancy tests from all GPs and community contraception and sexual health services.

The Poole Community Contraception Clinic is held at Poole Community Health Clinic, Shaftesbury Road, Poole, BH15 2NT, telephone: 01202 683363.


Marie Stopes - Abortion Clinics

Marie Stopes UK is an NHS Funded Abortion Care Provider

They have a 24hr/7 days a week helpline - 0345 300 80 90


They're clinics are open and fully operational during the pandemic and are they're open to talk to you about your choices;
• You can still make an appointment to visit one of there clinics for treatment,
• Contact them to talk about At Home Abortion Pills/Telemedicine Service.
You do not need a referral from your GP to receive treatment.

Marie Stopes Clinic Contacts


Urgent GP Services

Booking an urgent appointment with a doctor or nurse 8am - 6.30pm on weekdays.

Urgent medical care will be available through your surgery as needed. Telephone your GP surgery to access these services.

Your GP practice does not stay open round the clock. We close each weekday evening, overnight Mondays-Fridays and all day and night on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

But that doesn't stop you from feeling unwell. Out of normal surgery hours, all GPs have an emergency service. That's why we've set up a special service to meet your needs when GP practices are closed. This service is only for urgent medical problems that cannot wait to be treated until normal surgery hours.

If you need urgent medical advice or attention when your GP practice is closed:

Telephone our evening, night-time weekend and Bank Holiday services on:

NHS 111


Phone your own GP practice and your call will be put through to the service or you'll hear an answerphone message giving the number of the service.

You should seek advice or treatment without delay for anything other than minor illnesses, cuts or grazes


GP Appointments

Booking a routine appointment with a doctor or nurse at your own GP practice, 8am - 6.30pm on weekdays

The Practice offers a wide range of appointments which can be booked in advance by up to several weeks if required.

If you need to be seen soon we will offer an appointment within 2 working days with the next available Health Care Professional (HCP); be it Doctor, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse or other HCP. If your problem is very urgent the receptionist will ensure you are seen on the same day although in both instances we cannot guarantee that you will be seen by your usual practitioner or at a specified time due to demand.

If you are unable to keep your appointment please let reception know as soon as possible.

Extended Opening

The practice offers extended opening hours for those patients who wish to book an appointment to see a GP but find it difficult to come to the surgery during normal hours due to other commitments (i.e. work, caring, school etc). If you wish to book one of these appointments please contact your surgery to arrange a convenient date\time (our patients are also able to attend any of our four surgeries in extended hours).

Further details available on the appointments page.


NHS Care at the Chemist

Pharmacists (sometimes called chemists) can offer advice on medicines and how to take them. They can also offer advice on common complaints such as coughs, colds, aches and pains and other health issues, such as healthy eating and giving up smoking.

You can talk to your pharmacist in confidence - even about the most personal symptoms. Most pharmacies now have a quiet area away from other customers where you can speak to the pharmacist more privately.

Get FREE NHS care at the Chemist

If you’ve got a cough, cold or think you’ve got the flu it’s the best place to go. They can give you all the advice and medicines you need, without you having to go to the doctors for a prescription.

Find your local pharmacy use the following link:

Pharmacies in Bournemouth and Poole area


Local Optician

Search for my Local Optician

Everyone should have their eyes tested and for people over 40, an eye test every 2 years is recommended. An eye test doesn’t just tell you if you need glasses for long or short sight, it can pick up serious eye conditions before you are even aware there may be a problem.

A good example of this is glaucoma, which is caused by a build up in pressure in the eye resulting in damage to the optic nerve. If left untreated, it can lead to sight loss and even blindness. Diabetes can also be picked up during a sight test, as it can cause damage to the retina.

Once we reach 40, the risk of developing glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration increases. The earlier any eye problem is caught the greater the chance that treatment will help you enjoy and maintain good vision.

Many people are entitled to an NHS sight test for which there is no charge. You may be one of them:

  • Children under 16 or under 19 still in full time education
  • People aged 60 and over
  • Those who receive, or their partner receives, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or pension credit guarantee credit
  • People with Diabetes
  • People with Glaucoma
  • People aged 40 or over with a close relative who has or has had glaucoma
  • People advised by an ophthalmologist that they are at risk of glaucoma
  • Those who are registered blind or partially sighted
  • People entitled to NHS complex lens vouchers
  • Those entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit certificate or named on a valid HC2 certificate.

Types of Optician - It can sometimes be confusing as the word ‘Optician’ covers different people who all specialise in eyes.

Optometrists are qualified to examine the eyes, looking for defects in vision and other signs of conditions that may affect your sight or health, such as glaucoma or diabetes. An optometrist can diagnose, offer advice, prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses.

A dispensing optician on the other hand is qualified to fit glasses working from the prescription written by the optometrist. They may also have an additional qualification to enable them to fit contact lenses.

An ophthalmologist is a medically qualified eye specialist who works in hospitals.

Home visits by opticians

If you need a home visit from an optometrist, please telephone 0800 089 0166.

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website