MORE than 750 people have been seen at the former Dorset Council headquarters in Dorchester since it became an NHS facility last year.
At the Dolphin Center in Poole, the health service reports similar success with its ‘health village’ facility in the former Beales store.
A meeting of Dorset’s People and Health Review Board on Monday heard the two had good public response and were seen as a model for other health authorities elsewhere in the country.
It has been claimed that in Dorchester some of the waiting lists for treatment at Dorset County Hospital have almost disappeared due to the South Walks House ‘pop up’ facility offering face-to-face encounters face-to-face with doctors for orthopedic clinics and other specialty clinics.
For both units, it was claimed that the new uses for the buildings had helped revitalize the adjoining shopping malls and nearly eliminated waiting rooms with a patient flow designed to move people around the buildings – a lesson that had been taken from the Nightingale of hospitals opened at the height of the Covid crisis.
Both centers also used volunteers who for some paved the way to a career in the NHS, or for older people offered an active retirement.
The success of the clinics has led health professionals to wonder if similar ‘pop-up’ health projects could be carried out elsewhere in Dorset in the future – possibly using village halls or venues in certain market towns .
Cllr Nick Ireland said he welcomed the ‘high street health’ model being developed in Dorset as it appeared to be working well and could also help attract outside funding to help local people.
Sherborne Councilor Robin Legg told the meeting he welcomed the innovation but feared there was a shift from the north of the county to the south.
He was told talks would be held with nearby authorities, such as Yeovil Hospital, where many people in Dorset are treated, to ensure there was no duplication, or where there would have the most benefits for most people.