COVID Vaccination Clinics 

Update 26th March 2021


We have confirmation of a delivery next week of Pfizer vaccines for those who had their first dose in our earliest clinics over the weekend of 16/17/18th January.  We know it will be delivered either Tuesday or Wednesday, so have put clinics on for Thursday and Friday (Good Friday) and sent invitations to everyone who had their first vaccination 12 weeks earlier.  Once we’ve been told the exact day of delivery we will put on a further day’s clinic on either Wednesday or Saturday so if you can’t book at the moment, don’t worry, there will be more appointments going up soon.  (These are the constraints we are working under – the Pfizer vaccine has to be used within a certain time after delivery so until we are given the exact delivery date it is hard to plan.)   Second dose invitations will be sent approximately 10 weeks after the first dose was administered which will allow you to book an appointment at the recommended 12 week interval.  The second invitations will be sent by “CerneGP” or “Mid-Dorset Primary Care Network” – follow the link, enter your date of birth and chose and confirm your preferred time slot.  If you need help making the booking give us a ring at Portesham Surgery.  Any unbooked invitations, and patients without mobiles, will be called by us to help you book.


We still have some appointments this weekend and early next week for first doses of Astra Zeneca vaccines so we have extended our invitations to those aged 46 to 49 years, and if there are unfilled slots we will continue to extend our invitations down the age cohorts to avoid wastage. 

We have a number of non-responders in the younger age groups, as many of you have already booked appointments at the mass vaccination centres>  (They can send their invitations out early as they get almost daily deliveries, but we have to wait until we know what deliveries we will get each week and then invite the exact number of patients for the doses we expect to be delivered).   If you then receive an invitation from us please do follow the link to CANCEL our invitation so that we can extend the invitation to someone else.     Please only DECLINE if you definitely do not want to have the vaccine as this may prevent you from being invited again.  If you don’t respond to our invitation we have an obligation to contact you (for example in case you have changed phones without updating us or missed the text), unlike the mass vaccination centres who can sent as many texts as they like, safe in the knowledge that the GP surgeries will “mop up”).  Following up these unbooked invitations is taking a huge amount of our admin time so PLEASE follow the link or email us to cancel the invitation if you already have a booking elsewhere, so we can offer the opportunity to someone else.  Thank you!

We have completed inviting all our patients aged over 50 years.   We check the lists daily for anyone who may have been missed (new patients, those with recent birthdays or diagnoses) but if you believe you should have been invited please do contact us so we can help.

As a PCN (Primary Care Network) over 96% of our patients in the first 6 groups (aged 70 years and over) have now been vaccinated.

All appointments are at the Atrium Health Centre in Dorchester and invitations are sent out by text.

When you receive your text, click on the link to book your appointment date.  The time you are given is a 10-minute arrival slot – please do NOT arrive early as our clinics have been planned to allow for social distancing and efficient crowd management, and attending without an appointment or earlier than your booked slot risks an increase in queues and social distancing being difficult  to maintain.  You will get a text confirming your appointment time as you do for appointments at the Surgery here.

If you do not have a mobile phone rest assured we are contacting you by telephone and making the booking for you over the phone so no one will miss out.

Parking is free for clinic appointments in the lower (covered) end of Market car park. 


There are a number of scams in circulation, sent by both email and text.  Our invitation is quite short and you will only be asked to confirm your date of birth when booking.  It will look something like this screen shot here  (although we do change the wording from time to time).  If you are asked for your banking information STOP – this will be a scam.  Similarly if you are very much younger than the group highlighted above which we are currently inviting, this might also be a scam.  Ring us if in doubt and we will check if your invitation is genuine.

This video from Dorset CCG shows how quickly and efficiently so many people have been vaccinated (with an interview with the Atrium COVID clinic marshals at around 2 minutes – it opens best in Google or Microsoft Edge) https://youtu.be/QUc5rUIsAJg

Mass Vaccination Centres: 

Those in the younger age groups will probably also have received a postal or text invitation from NHS Digital with details of how to book at a mass vaccination centre in places like Taunton, Bournemouth, Poole or Yeovil through the National Booking System.  You may get an earlier appointment if you are prepared to travel to one of these centres rather than waiting until we reach your age group with our invitations – it is your choice whether to travel or wait a little longer.  However we have been told that the mass vaccination centres will not be offering appointments to the under 50s during April, where we may have some vacancies, so do look out for an invitation from us.

Those patients who are too frail to travel or don’t have transport to Dorchester are being put on a waiting list to have the Astra-Zeneca vaccine more locally and we will contact you as soon as we can arrange this.

Cancelling the invitation: If you are unable to book your vaccination now (for example if you are isolating or stuck elsewhere in the country or abroad) but do want to be invited again in the future,  please respond “cancel” to our text invitation.  This cancels the invitation so we can offer the opportunity to the next person on the list but you will still be invited later if you haven’t had it elsewhere.  Please also “cancel” the invitation if you are booked elsewhere, rather than decline which implies you do not want the vaccination at all.

Declining the vaccination altogether: If you do not wish to have the COVID vaccination please reply to your text with the word “decline” so that we don’t keep trying to contact you.  

For frequently asked questions about our vaccination clinic, please see  Covid Patient FAQs

Changes to appointment system from January 2021

We have kept our doors open throughout the pandemic and carried on taking bookings for routine appointments in advance (the only difference being these are generally telephone appointments), as well as dealing on the day with emergencies and urgent queries, and if you need to be seen by the doctor we have continued to bring patients into the surgery every day.

However the current unprecedented workload is threatening to swamp us.  Our GPs have been working 12 hour days and carrying on working at home in the evenings and at weekends.  We have to make some changes to ensure that, for the next few weeks at least, we can prioritise patients with the most urgent needs.

We are therefore moving to a total triage system for our GP work, as many other GP surgeries have already done.  Please note that this does not apply to nurse appointments which will continue as normal.

The main difference for you is that we cannot book you a routine appointment until the pressure eases.  This will give time for the second GP each day to assist with the on-the-day emergencies and triaging all requests to make sure that the most urgent requests are dealt with quickly.

  • If you have an urgent problem which you feel requires same-day assessment by a doctor, you should telephone us as normal and we will put you on that day’s triage list.  A doctor will assess the information you give our receptionist and either telephone you, bring you in to the surgery or book you a later appointment as appropriate.
  • If you feel your problem is less urgent and does not require same day assessment, please send  an eConsult by clicking on the blue box towards the bottom of this page.  This will be looked at by a GP and you will get a response by email within 2 -3 working days (the response could be advice, a prescription or the offer of an appointment as appropriate).  For patients who are less computer-savvy, continue to telephone us and we will help you.

If your problem is relatively routine but you feel it cannot wait please telephone us for advice; our reception or admin team may be able to help you or we will add your request to the GP list to assess and respond to within an appropriate timescale. For routine problems please try to ring between 9am and 11am, avoiding the busy first half hour and allowing us to prioritise urgent calls and emergencies after 11am so we can be sure of completing all the same-day work by the end of the day.

Remember, we are still open and working as normal, seeing patients, monitoring your long-term conditions and organising referrals, so do not delay if there is something you are worried about.  The only difference is that all new requests will be triaged by the GPs first so that we can be sure we are dealing with the most clinically urgent problems first.

Our GPs can not respond to emails at the moment so please only use this option for sending information to the GP which does not require a response (such as sending us your home BP readings) or to request administrative help from our admin team.  Our email address for these purposes is portesham.reception@dorsetgp.nhs.uk.  Remember, for non-urgent queries use the eConsult option or telephone our reception team for advice.

Remember not to come into the surgery in person unless you are collecting medication from the dispensary (which is 8.30 to 1pm or 5 – 6 pm) or for a pre-arranged appointment with a GP or nurse.  Don’t forget your mask!

We understand that these changes may seem radical – we are all used to being available to our patients at all times for appointments and phone calls – but the pace of work has simply outstripped our capacity at the moment, and we hope that these changes will mean we can keep going until the immediate pressure eases.

Coronavirus Arrangements

Do not attend the surgery if you suspect you have the virus or have been in close contact with an infected person.  Use the NHS 111 online symptom checker at https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19You do not need to call us, or NHS 111, to report that you have the symptoms.  Follow the care advice given on the NHS 111 website or in the media, but contact us if your symptoms worsen or you are worried.  If you think you might have COVID-19 you can telephone the NHS COVID hotline number 119 or go online to 119 to arrange to have a test.

For up to date information please use the following links:   GOV.uk/coronavirus     NHS.uk/coronavirus


FOR REPEAT PRESCRIPTIONS ORDERED VIA TELEPHONE OR ONLINE PLEASE CAN WE ASK THAT YOU GIVE THE DISPENSARY AT LEAST ONE WEEKS’ NOTICE WHERE POSSIBLE.  This is because of the persistent delays in stock being delivered, which can result in long queues at the dispensary if you come to collect something which we have not yet received from the suppliers. Thank you for helping us to reduce the queues by ordering in plenty of time.

Third Lockdown: once again the pubs are closed but as in the previous lockdowns, we will deliver to patients in Puncknowle who are unable to collect from the Surgery, and the White Horse in Litton Cheney opens from 10 – 12am every Saturday for you to collect prescriptions.  Please do your best to collect your medication at this time but if you can’t, the Vennings have once again offered to deliver any uncollected prescriptions.  We are very grateful to them for their help in keep the valley healthy!

Click here for full information and advice on all our new arrangements to keep you safe.


For non-urgent queries you can now do an eConsult.  With many of our consultations being done by telephone it may be harder for you to reach us by telephone at the moment, so this is a helpful alternative which is becoming increasingly popular with our patients.  It gives the doctor all the information they need to be able to help you, for example with advice or a prescription, and it saves you travelling to the surgery, finding a lift or childcare, taking time off work etc, so do give it a try – see below. eConsults are suitable for NON URGENT QUERIES and will get a response within two working days.  For more urgent problems please telephone us as normal.

PLEASE CLICK THIS BOX to start your eConsult:

See here for more details about eConsult and how it works.

Flu vaccinations 

We still have stocks of the flu vaccine for the over 65s and for those aged 50 – 64, and would encourage you to have this vaccination while you are waiting for your turn to be called for the COVID vaccination, as research shows you are less susceptible to complications if you are protected from the flu.  Please contact us to book an appointment if you have not already had yours.

Telephone numbers:

Please note that we have closed the old dispensary telephone number as we no longer take routine medication orders by phone.  If you have a medication query please ring the main surgery number 01305 871468 or email the appropriate team:


SOCIAL PRESCRIBING..is now at Portesham Surgery !

Who would like to write their own script? why not take a fresh approach in life.  If you want to improve your wellbeing, try writing yourself a new wellbeing script!

Click HERE to find out more about Social Prescribing and how we could help you




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