Health and care workforce


The population of Dorset is served by NHS health services that includes 72 GP practices, as well as other primary care services such as dentistry, pharmacies and opticians, three hospitals, 12 community hospitals and a range of community and mental health services. The ambulance service (999) is provided by South Western Ambulance Services NHS Foundation Trust, with the 111 service provided by Dorset HealthCare.

Primary Care

In terms of primary care services, across Dorset there are around 580 GPs working from 114 sites staffed by over 3000 people. Practices vary significantly in size, from single-handed GP practices to practices with 12 GPs working from one site. The number of people registered per GP also varies widely from practice to practice, ranging from under 1,000 to over 4,000 people registered to one GP (who works full time).

Social Care


All healthcare services interface with adult and children’s social services provided by the three local authorities (Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole). Services are also provided in the form of informal carers and the many voluntary and support organisations that work across Dorset to support people with their health and social care needs.



Community and Mental Health Services

Community and mental health services are mostly provided by Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust from 12 community hospitals and through a range of community and home based services.

Hospital care



Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole

Our hospitals provide healthcare that requires specialist skills and knowledge not available in general practice or in the community:

  • Emergency care – accident and emergency (A&E) departments, and emergency admissions to hospital
  • Planned and specialist care for example outpatients, diagnostic tests and planned (or elective) surgery
  • Maternity (including obstetric) care and paediatrics (children’s care)

Some residents of Dorset use hospital services in neighbouring areas, especially Salisbury and Yeovil hospitals, and each year a small number of patients receive more specialist services at Southampton, Bristol, Exeter and centres further afield.

The health needs

The number of people living in Dorset is growing

We’ll have more people living longer with more long-term conditions like diabetes and dementia. This will increase demand for and pressure on our health services. At the same time fewer of us are suffering heart attacks, strokes or major accidents.

In terms of health related behaviours, in the main we compare well to England, however they are still a major factor in preventable causes of ill health and early mortality; specifically smoking, smoking in pregnancy, alcohol consumption and obesity.

The vision is to provide local services that are centred around the needs of local people, with services designed around people, a greater focus on preventing ill-health and promoting good health, care delivered closer to home and services which are sustainable.

It will become increasingly important for people to stay well, avoid ill-health and better manage long-term conditions. To do this, the right information and support needs to be in place.