Suffering from flu-like symptoms? The best place for most people is at home.

Doctors and nurses across Dorset are advising people who have flu-like symptoms to stay at home if they can. In particular, they are asking people with flu not to turn up at hospital emergency departments.

This can spread flu to other people who are already ill and to essential hospital staff at a time of year when the number of cases of influenza are increasing and NHS services face highest demand.

If anyone thinks they have flu and are concerned or have an underlying medical condition, they should phone NHS 111 for help and advice.

111 is the NHS non-emergency number to call if you urgently need some medical help or advice and aren’t sure who to speak to.

111 is manned by highly trained advisors who are supported by healthcare professionals. When you call they will ask you a series of questions to assess your symptoms and direct you to the most appropriate care.

Examples of when you should use 111 include
· If you need urgent medical help but it’s not an emergency
· You don’t know who to call or don’t have a GP to call
· You need health information

If NHS 111 advisers think you need an ambulance, they’ll immediately arrange for one to be sent to you. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

NHS Choices website – can also be used for advice on a wide range of illnesses and conditions and visiting your local pharmacists – who are health professionals – can also give health advice.

Please only use Emergency Departments or call 999 in a genuine emergency or a serious or life threatening situation, this allows doctors to treat people who are in genuine need.

Paula Shobbrook, Director of Nursing & Midwifery/Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals, said: “Flu is highly infectious and with numbers increasing in the community, the cooperation of members of the public in helping to reduce the spread of this is really helpful. The Emergency Departments in Dorset are extremely busy so if you’re feeling unwell, please follow the advice and only come to hospitals if it is an emergency, otherwise, you could be putting already ill people at real risk.”