COVID Vaccination Clinics 

Update 16th February 2021

Exactly one month after we started vaccinating, we have vaccinated over 10,000 patients at our clinics at the Atrium Health Centre in Dorchester, and we reached the government target of vaccinating all those in the first four priority groups by mid-February several days early.  By the end of the current week this figure will include around 1,000 of our own patients.

Many of our staff have worked at the clinics and it has been a really positive and sometimes emotional experience for staff and patients alike.  The local community has been very supportive with so many volunteer marshals working in freezing conditions to greet you in the car park, and individuals and businesses bringing in contributions of cakes, coffee and cuppa soups to keep us going.  Thank you to the army of volunteers and staff who have so far made these clinics run very smoothly and allowed us to provide the first vaccine dose to a huge proportion of our population in such a short space of time.

We are currently inviting our Group 5 patients aged 65 – 69 and, depending on vaccine deliveries, hope to have completed those vaccinations by the end of next week. 

Click here to listen to an excellent and informative radio interview given to Dorchester’s community radio station Keep 106 by local Town Councillor Les Fry, who is helping to organise the volunteer marshals at The Atrium.

“Spare doses?”

We would like to make you aware of posts that have been seen recently on social media encouraging people to attend the vaccination clinic without an appointment towards the end of the day to chance getting a “spare” dose.

Whilst we occasionally do have doses “spare”, these are usually because people have not attended for their booked appointment and so are very limited in numbers. We ask that patients DO NOT attend the clinic without a booked appointment as you will be turned away. To ensure all doses are used, we have a list of patients who were due to be invited in the next wave of invitations. They will receive a call from a member of the vaccination team to invite them in at the end of the day for these additional doses.

Arrival Times

We are also asking that patients who have booked appointments do not arrive before their provided time slot. This slot is 10 minutes in length, meaning you are free to arrive at any point within the 10 minute window.

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 risks social distancing being difficult to maintain.


Invitations are being sent out by text message to your mobile phone, but there are a number of scams in circulation.  The invitation text message will be followed by a second message confirming your appointment as soon as your booking is confirmed.  Click here to see a screen shot of a typical invitation and confirmation, which includes the link which is provided by accuRx software.  If your invitation does not look like the screen shot (or you are younger than the current group being invited as detailed above) it is a probably a scam, so do not open it.  Note that if you don’t have a mobile, or don’t respond to the text, we are telephoning every patient on the list and making sure every eligible patient has been given the chance to book an appointment before we move on to the next group of invitations.

Letters offering appointments at mass vaccination centres have been sent out by NHS England to patients living within 45 minutes travel of the new centres in Bournemouth and Yeovil.    Many of these letters have gone to patients who have already received their first vaccination or have an appointment booked through their GP.  This has caused some confusion.  The advice from Dorset CCG is that if you have already have an appointment booked locally, please do not cancel it in favour of booking one at the mass vaccination centre, in order to prevent wasted appointments that we cannot fill at short notice.  If you have not yet had your invitation from us, the mass vaccination centre is an alternative you can consider, or you can wait for your invitation from us to have it locally.  See here for more information from Dorset CCG.

Please remember:

  • The vaccines are being rolled out in a very strict order
  • Please do not contact the surgery nor the hospital to seek a vaccine
  • We will contact you when the NHS has informed us that you are eligible
  • The limiting factor at the moment is the supply of vaccines but this will improve.  

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.

Car Parking: I am told that if you park in the bottom (mainly covered) car park where our marshals are in their bright yellow jackets, you will not have to pay for parking.  You will have to pay if you park further up in the main, long-stay part of the car park.  Our marshals are all volunteers, and are on hand to help guide you if you need help so do ask.

If you do not wish to have the COVID vaccination please tell us so that we don’t keep trying to contact you, ideally by emailing portesham.reception@dorsetgp.nhs.uk.

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

Changes to appointment system from 11th 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 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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