Campaign success as Swanage Hospital walk-in access restored

Hailed as a victory for common sense, Friends of Swanage Hospital say that patients will now be allowed to turn up at Swanage Hospital Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) without an appointment.

While people will be encouraged to ring the NHS phone line 111 first, they won’t have to and can choose instead to be assessed by hospital staff.

This is a major turnaround by NHS bosses, who had been insisting that the temporary measure of booking an appointment via NHS 111, brought in during the pandemic, was now a permanent policy.

Swanage Hospital garden

The Friends of Swanage Hospital recently funded a million pound building and refurbishment project, which included the creation of a therapeutic garden

Shift in stance

The shift in stance follows a campaign against the move, led by The Friends of Swanage Hospital, a charitable foundation that has raised millions of pounds to equip the hospital.

At the start of September 2021, it appealed to people who used Swanage Hospital to send in their recent experiences of accessing the MIU.

Exterior of Swanage Hospital

Swanage Hospital in Queen’s Road

Calling 999 in desperation

With the NHS 111 call centre having to cope with a huge number of calls from across the country, it was taking residents a minimum of 13 minutes on the phone to book a simple appointment at the MIU.

At peak times it was taking hours to speak to a person, with some having to resort to calling 999 in desperation for a medical response.

At the beginning of October 2021, the chair of The Friends of Swanage Hospital, Jan Turnbull met with NHS Dorset Healthcare management, who run the hospital, and presented evidence from patients that highlighted the flaws in the new system.

Friends of Swanage Hospital with Swanage Mayor

The committee of The Friends of Swanage Hospital with Swanage Town Mayor Avril Harris

“We understand local concerns

Now a formal response from NHS Dorset Healthcare has been received. In a letter to The Friends of Swanage Hospital it said:

“While we encourage people to use 111 First, we understand local concerns raised about some aspects of this approach…

“People who go to an MIU without an appointment will continue to be assessed by our staff.

“Depending on the patient’s need, they will either be treated immediately, given a timed appointment that day or the next, directed to a more appropriate service or given advice on selfcare.”

Front entrance of Swanage Hospital

“Our hospital door has been unlocked!

Responding to the news, chair of the Friends of Swanage Hospital, Jan Turnbull said:

“A Successful Campaign!

“The Friends of Swanage Hospital are delighted to report that Dorset Healthcare have reacted to the patient stories you sent us and listened to our concerns about access to our MIU.

“So our hospital door has been unlocked! We have our walk-in MIU service back and common sense has prevailed.”

It’s now hoped that the news will be shared, so all those within the local community know that while they may still book an appointment via NHS 111, they can now also access medical treatment at the MIU by going directly to the hospital.

Further information

To join The Friends of Swanage Hospital, an application form is on its website

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