December 2014

NEW Devon CCG is advising people feeling unwell or have suffered a minor injury to call their GP or see a pharmacist first

30 December 2014

People in Devon are being encouraged to get in touch with their GP or see a pharmacist if they have a health need that’s not an emergency.

Hospitals are currently seeing a higher than usual number of people coming to emergency departments and this is creating pressures in the healthcare system.

Dr David Jenner, a GP from Devon and chair of the Eastern Locality of Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said it was important that people chose the right healthcare service to meet their needs.

 “If you have a health need that’s not an emergency you should visit or call your GP practice or pharmacy,” he said. “You could also consider a minor injuries unit or walk-in centre if you have a minor injury or illness, or call NHS 111.

“Pharmacists are highly-trained professionals who are willing and able to help if you have a minor illness. You don’t need an appointment – just drop in and you can be out again in just a few minutes with the medication and advice you need. Some pharmacies are open right through New Year and you can find out the nearest one open to you by clicking here.

“GP surgeries are open this week including normal hours on New Year’s Eve. They will be closed for just New Year’s Day but will be open again on Friday. If you need to see your GP call them and make an appointment, if they are closed there will be a message advising you what to do.

“My advice is for people to visit or phone their GP practice or pharmacy if it’s not an emergency. NHS 111 can also provide help and advice but can get very busy on New Year’s Day. And some people could quite safely taken care of themselves with basic self-care, first aid and advice.”

NEW Devon CCG has issued some handy tips to people to help them choose the right NHS service for them. Why not check that you have everything you need.

  • Try your family or self-care - for minor illnesses, combine medicines for coughs, colds or flu with plenty of rest.
  • Pharmacist/chemist - pharmacists are trained to help people with minor illnesses and can advise on medicine that can be bought over the counter. Your nearest pharmacy can be found here: www.nhs.uk. Those open on New Year’s Day can be found here
  • NHS 111 – for non-emergency health needs, 24 hours a day, as well as help to find services. Go to www.nhs.uk or call 111.
  • NHS minor injuries unit (MIU) - for treatment of minor illnesses or injuries, without an appointment. For details of your nearest MIU, go to www.nhs.uk.
  • Your GP surgery provides a wide range of health services, including: advice on health problems, vaccinations, examinations and treatment, prescriptions for medicines, referrals to other health services and social services. Your surgery will make sure you get to speak to a healthcare professional on the same day if you have an urgent condition.
  • Hospital emergency departments or 999 – please only attend hospital emergency departments if you have an immediate and serious problem that cannot be dealt with by the other services. 999 only for critical or life-threatening situations.

East Devon councillors and Hospital league of friends to be part of local Stakeholder Group

24 December 2014

NEW Devon CCG recently announced an extension to the involvement and consultation period for transforming community services for the Eastern locality.  The consultation will now continue to 15 February 2015. 

On Wednesday, 14 January 2015 at 7pm at the Knowle, Sidmouth, county councillors from the Honiton, Axminster, Seaton, Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary area and hospital league of friends representatives, will meet with clinicians and managers from Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). 

They will discuss forming a local stakeholder group, who will work with the CCG as part of the extended consultation, to hear further information before any long- term decision is made about the future of community hospitals and services.

Steve Holt, Treasurer of Axminster Hospital League of Friends said, “From the initial presentation of the transforming community services documentation, we in Axminster have been striving to engage with the CCG and its service providers to look at the future from the community’s perspective. We welcome this opportunity which will hopefully enable us to achieve a harmonious outcome for a robust service across the whole locality which meets the needs and wishes of patients.”

This meeting will be held in public, but is not a public meeting.  This means that members of the public will be invited to attend and observe only.  There is limited space at the Knowle meeting facility and anyone who wishes to attend this meeting, will be required to book a place.

If you would like to attend, you will need to book a place with Stacey Avery on 01392 356102.  Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be limited to 14 places for each of the five towns (Honiton, Axminster, Seaton, Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary). 

More information about the proposals for the Eastern locality can be found on the NEW Devon CCG website here.  Members of the public can continue to provide their feedback on the consultation by emailing d-ccg.easternlocality@nhs.net or by writing to NEW Devon CCG, Eastern Locality, Newcourt House, Old Rydon Lane, Exeter EX2 7JU.

Moretonhampstead Hospital new year message and vision for the year ahead

23 December 2014

The development of the Moretonhampstead Steering Group has been a great success. The steering group meets monthly and works together on the development of the health and social care hub at Moretonhampstead Hospital. 

We are extremely grateful for the input of local people to this group, which includes the League of Friends, local GP practices and their Patient Participation Groups (PPGs), parish councillors and other members of the local community.

We were very pleased to welcome Mel Stride, MP for Central Devon, to our steering group meeting in August, at which he was supportive of the developments at the hospital and he was pleased to see how involved the local community was in this.

Plans for 2015

Several new clinics and services are due to be launched at Moretonhampstead Hospital over the coming months, bringing a range of benefits for local people, and we’re looking forward to seeing these develop. Following the success of the new weekly strength and balance classes, which launched in November, an additional class will be starting in January.

We are looking to develop a dedicated Facebook page for the hub, which will enable the community to access updated information and details of events and clinics, and will generally provide a forum for discussion.  We are also working with the manager of the Moretonhampstead town website to look at the development of a dedicated page for the hub.  The official website, where people can find the most up to date information and news about the hub, can be found at www.healthypeoplemoreton.co.uk

Some members of the steering group will be looking to attend parish council meetings over the coming months to provide updates about the development of the hub.

The financial position for the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is extremely challenging. However, we remain committed to the development of the Health and Social Care Hub as Hubs are key towards creating a more sustainable Health and Social Care system.  Other than ensuring that we get best value from everything that we spend, the financial position of the CCG does not impact on this development.

We recently invited expressions of interest from providers who may be interested in running clinics or services from the Hub and any income that can be obtained from a third party for rental of space will contribute to the services provided and running costs of the building.

Wellbeing Drop-in Sessions

Following a successful open day at Moretonhampstead Hospital in November, the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is welcoming the local community to a series of Wellbeing Drop-in Sessions.  The next session, on Tuesday 24 February (10am to 1pm), will have a theme of falls prevention and safety at home while the event on Tuesday 24 March (10am to 1pm) will have a focus on diabetes.

Thank You

All developments at Moretonhampstead Hospital over the last year would not have been possible without the support and input of people from the local community.  We would like to express our thanks in particular, to the Moretonhampstead Hospital League of Friends, the local GP practices and their Patient Participation Groups (PPGs), all members of the Moretonhampstead Steering Group and the News in Moreton for publishing our updates. 

Dr Alex Degan
Chair of the Moretonhampstead Steering Group

Stock up on over the counter medicine before the Christmas break

22 December 2014

A doctor from Devon is advising people to make sure they are stocked up on over-the-counter medicine ahead of the Christmas break.
 
Dr John Womersley, a family doctor and GP Board member of the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, suggested that people should stock up on medicine and not get caught out by the upcoming Christmas bank holidays.
 
“There are a number of steps you could take to make sure you are prepared for the Christmas and New Year holidays, when GP surgeries are closed,” he said.
 
“You should request any repeat prescriptions in good time and, if you are away for a holiday or weekend break, it’s important that you take enough medicine with you.
 
“Stock up your medicine cabinet with over the counter remedies for ailments such as headaches, colds or flu, and ensure you have remedies for children.
 
“It is also worth checking the opening times of local pharmacies and GP surgeries over the festive period, as some are open until 6pm.”
 
GP practices and many pharmacies are closed on 25 – 28 December inclusive and again on 1 January. Opening times can usually be found on the front door or window of the pharmacy or GP practice, or alternatively you could check their website.
 
Dr Womersley also said people should consider alternatives to hospital A&E departments if their condition was not an emergency.
 
“We have a great range of other NHS services in your area that could help treat people quicker and avoid them having to wait up to four hours to be seen at an A&E,” he continued.
 
“So my advice is for people to visit or phone their GP practice, pharmacy or NHS 111 if it’s not an emergency.”
 
This winter NEW Devon CCG reissued its handy tips to help people choose the right NHS service for them.
 
  • Try your family or self-care - for minor illnesses, combine medicines for coughs, colds or flu with plenty of rest.
  • Pharmacist/chemist - pharmacists are trained to help people with minor illnesses and can advise on medicine that can be bought over the counter. Your nearest pharmacy can be found here: www.nhs.uk. Some pharmacies are open extended hours.
  • NHS 111 – for non-emergency health needs, which operates all day, every day, as well as help to find services. Go to www.nhs.uk or call 111.
  • NHS minor injuries unit (MIU) - for treatment of minor illnesses or injuries, without an appointment. For details of your nearest MIU, go to www.nhs.uk. The Plymouth MIU is based at the Cumberland Centre in Devonport, near Plymouth Albion rugby club – set your sat nav to PL1 4JZ.
  • Family doctor – Your local general GP surgery provides a wide range of family health services, including: advice on health problems, vaccinations, examinations and treatment, prescriptions for medicines, referrals to other health services and social services. Your surgery will make sure you get to speak to a healthcare professional on the same day if you have an urgent condition.
  • Hospital emergency departments or 999 – please only attend hospital emergency departments if you have an immediate and serious problem that cannot be dealt with by the other services. 999 only for critical or life-threatening situations.

Public Health England advises people with symptoms of norovirus not to visit hospitals and care homes this winter

17 December 2014

Ahead of the ‘winter vomiting season’ Public Health England (PHE) wants to remind everyone experiencing symptoms of Norovirus to stay at home and to telephone NHS 111 for advice. It is vital that people who may have norovirus do not visit hospitals, care homes or their GP surgery.

Norovirus infection is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhoea in the UK, affecting around 3million people every year. The symptoms of norovirus are very distinctive – people often report a sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea, some people also experience headaches, mild temperature and stomach cramps.

There is no treatment for the virus but it is important to keep hydrated to combat the loss of fluids. Most people will recover within a few days and there are no long-term effects.

The illness is highly infectious and great care needs to be taken to prevent its spread. When introduced to hospitals, residential care homes and other establishments where people live or work together in close proximity it can have major consequences such as the closure of hospital wards to new admissions, NHS staff going off work sick and patient appointments being postponed.

Dr Sarah Harrison, Deputy Director of Health Protection for the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset Public Health England Centre said:
“Outbreaks of norovirus infection are common as winter approaches. However, the impact on individuals and care settings, such as hospitals and residential care homes, can be limited to some extent, with simple actions.

“In hospitals, it is necessary to isolate individual cases and partial closures of wards are common as measures are taken to contain the infection and stop it spreading.

“There are also things that people can do to protect themselves and others from catching norovirus infection. Thorough hand washing and careful cleaning after someone has been ill are essential. Social occasions should also be avoided until at least 48 hours after someone has recovered from the illness.”

Dr Graham Lockerbie, Medical Director for the NHS England Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Area Team said: 

“Norovirus is highly infectious and can be very unpleasant if you catch it, causing vomiting and diarrhoea.

“Simple things like washing your hands properly, being very careful with the handling of food and avoiding contact with other people who show symptoms will all help avoid getting infected. Although most people will usually get better in a day or so, people who are physically frail can be affected far more severely.

“If you do think you have had Norovirus, don’t visit someone in hospital for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have finished. Otherwise, you could be putting ill people at real risk.”

The advice for people with symptoms is:
  • Stay away from work, school or college until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours
  • Do not handle or prepare food for other people until you have been symptom free for a minimum period of 48 hours
  • Do not visit friends or relatives in hospitals or residential care homes to avoid introducing the infection to environments where it could spread easily and put vulnerable people at greater risk
  • Do not attend social gatherings until you have been free of all symptoms for at least 48 hours
  • Do not visit your GP surgery or local A&E Unit. You will recover naturally without treatment, but it is important to rest and take plenty of drinks to replace lost fluids
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly at all times, but particularly after toilet visits and before eating
  • Do not share towels with others. If possible, use paper towels after hand-washing and dispose of them immediately
  • Make sure that any surface that is contaminated by vomit or faeces is promptly and thoroughly disinfected after an episode of illness
  • If your symptoms persist or appear to be worsening, phone your family doctor or NHS 111 for advice
  • If you have bloody diarrhoea (blood in your stools), phone your doctor or NHS 111 urgently for advice.

Pharmacy First makes it easier to get treatment for minor ailments

17 December 2014

Community pharmacists across Devon are stepping up support for people who suffer minor and winter ailments, to make it easier and quicker to get help.
 
They are even able to provide some medicines that are usually only available on prescription, to save on a trip to the doctor.
 
The scheme, known as Pharmacy First, is designed to make healthcare more accessible than ever this winter. In turn, that should ease pressure on GPs, enabling them to spend more time with patients who have more-serious conditions.
 
After being tried in western Devon last year, Pharmacy First now covers nearly the whole county. Funding is due to run until next spring, when the impact will be reviewed.
 
The two main elements are:
 
1 Winter ailments
Go along to your pharmacy for advice and medication to combat coughs, colds, sore throats, fever, earache, teething, diarrhoea, blocked nose, headache and similar conditions. Over-the-counter medicines can be dispensed free of charge for those who are exempt from prescription payments.
 
2 Minor illnesses
Pharmacists can now prescribe medicines that would usually require a doctor’s authorisation, in order to treat a range of common conditions:
·         bacterial conjunctivitis
·         impetigo
·         nappy rash
·         female urinary tract Infection
·         oral candidiasis

The project has been developed by Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC), Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, and NHS England.
 
David Bearman, Chair of Devon LPC, said: “Pharmacists are highly-trained professionals who are willing and able to help if you get one of these minor illnesses. You don’t need an appointment – just drop in and you can be out again in just a few minutes with the medication and advice you need. We’ve all got consulting rooms, so it can all be done in complete privacy.”
 
Gareth Smith of Alphington Pharmacy, Exeter, said: “We’re at the heart of the community, so we’re ideally placed to help people with these types of ailments. They’re the sorts of things that can be unpleasant and inconvenient, but don’t need a GP appointment to sort out. Just come and see us.”
 
Bridget Sampson, Director of Commissioning with NHS England’s Area Team for Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, said: “We’re very keen to make the most of our pharmacists’ skills and accessibility, because there’s real untapped potential to strengthen patient care close to home. The service is there – please make the most of it.”
 
Dr Dafydd Jones, a local GP and clinical lead for urgent care at the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There’s no such thing as wasting your pharmacist’s time. If you have a bad cough, trouble breathing, a cold or sore throat pop down to your local pharmacy for quick health advice or visit www.nhs.uk/asap. Early advice is the best advice.
 
“Pharmacists have longer opening hours than GP practices, you don’t need an appointment to see one, and most have a consultation area where you can speak privately. They’ll also tell you if they think you should see your GP.”

NEW Devon CCG asks people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing in Devon

11 December 2014

Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) has announced that it will not require patients to undergo weight loss or stop smoking ahead of routine surgery.
 
Patients will be offered evidence-based guidance on the benefits of weight loss and smoking cessation as part of their healthcare.
 
This new position follows significant feedback from a wide range of stakeholders across health, social care and professional bodies on the proposed measures.
 
People with a high BMI and those who smoke will continue to be invited by their GP to quit smoking or lose weight before undergoing surgery but will not be required to do so.
 
Clinicians on the Governing Body remain of the view that encouraging smokers and those with a high BMI to stop smoking or lose weight will give them a better outcome for any procedure, but more importantly better health outcomes for the rest of their lives.
GP clinicians say they need patients to join with them to get the best return on the money people spend on the NHS.
 
A spokesman for the CCG said: “We announced a series of measures to improve health outcomes in October.
 
“This produced a helpful public debate which we have followed with interest.

“We have come to the conclusion that there is already a strong public acceptance of the need for people to continue to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.
 
“We have therefore decided to further promote smoking cessation and weight loss services to improve outcomes for patients.”
 
Measures that will continue as previously planned include plans to reduce emergency admissions and A&E attendance and changing from using some branded drugs to more generic drugs.
 
Proposals including the value of second hearing aids and second cataract operations will be subject to consultation, while a set of measures including the management of hernias and suspension of some treatments such as ultrasound guided injections remain under consideration.
 
Measures will be subject to rigorous assessment, and consultation if appropriate and prior to any consultation the CCG will seek assurance that the proposed measures do not discriminate or exacerbate health inequalities, and comply with statutory requirements.

Weight management and smoking requirements to be introduced ahead of planned surgery in the NEW Devon CCG area

Please note: The press release below contains information that is now out of date. 

3 December 2014


The Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) today announced measures to prioritise essential services.

Last month the CCG announced its intention to take ‘urgent and necessary’ measures to prioritise the requirements laid out in the NHS Constitution.

The CCG decided that for those patients undergoing hip and knee operations with a body mass index of more than 35 (morbidly obese) they patient would be required to have a BMI of under 35 or to lose 5 per cent of their weight before planned surgery, whichever is the lesser weight loss.

The CCG announced today that it would be temporarily extending the BMI requirement to all routine surgical procedures. However, surgery that is urgent or immediately necessary, such as to treat cancer, will not be delayed.

It also said it would extend the quit smoking requirement from the original proposal of six weeks to eight weeks before planned surgery.

The CCG also confirmed that it would not be restricting IVF treatment or caesarean sections without medical grounds at this time.

In all cases the decisions announced are interim commissioning positions based on clinical evidence, pending further consultation.

They have also been subject to quality and equality impact assessments.

The quit smoking and the BMI requirements will be introduced with immediate effect.

Patients with a date for surgery will not be affected by the policy, but will also be offered weight management or quit smoking support.

All other patients that are covered by the policy will be offered weight management or quit smoking support.

Dr Tim Burke, Chair of NEW Devon CCG said: “All of these temporary measures relate to planned operations and treatments, not those which must be done as an emergency or to save lives.

“Clinicians have carefully reviewed a number of measures, taking into account the impacts of their temporary withdrawal to decide which will be implemented.

“We recognise that each patient is an individual and where their GP or consultant feels that there are exceptional circumstances we will convene a panel of clinicians to consider the case.

“We will continue to keep people informed about our decisions around the measures. Information will be on our website www.newdevonccg.nhs.uk”

The CCG also agreed (after consideration by clinicians): temporary changes to:

  • The drugs we are choosing to use to treat Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD)
  • Shockwave therapy for tendon problems and bursitis
  • Restrictions on certain types of shoulder surgery
  • Restrictions on removal of earwax in hospitals
  • Treating cataracts in each eye separately
  • Restrictions on additional hearing aids

Last year the CCG returned a £14.5 million deficit (known as a control total) and this year it had been predicting the same. But its confidence in meeting this at the end of the current financial year has gradually declined as the situation has become clearer; in short, demand for services is outstripping what it can afford.

At this time the CCG made it clear that it would be introducing temporary restrictions to prioritise those services and requirements laid out in the NHS Constitution. They include (but are not limited to):
  • Consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18-weeks from referral for non-urgent conditions
  • Maximum four-hour wait in A&E from arrival to admission
  • Maximum 7-day wait for follow-up after discharge from psychiatric in-patient care
  • Being seen by a cancer specialist within a maximum of two weeks from GP referral where cancer is suspected
  • Maximum 62-day wait from referral from an NHS cancer screening service to first treatment
  • Patients waiting for a diagnostic test should have been waiting less than 6 weeks from referral
  • Ambulance trusts to respond to 95 per cent of category A calls within 19 minutes of a request being made

Dr Tim Burke added: “The services we are temporarily restricting were chosen for a number of reasons.

“Some, such as additional hearing aids, show far lesser cost effectiveness than the first.

“Others, such as the treatment we now favour for Wet AMD give equal effectiveness and safety for far less cost. This will hopefully allow us to start treating people sooner than the more expensive drugs allow.

“Other measures encourage patients to take steps themselves to reduce their risks from surgery and to improve their outcomes, such as losing weight and stopping smoking.

“As part of the review we looked at how long a person should stop smoking for before surgery and based on that evidence we have increased the previously discussed time of six weeks to eight weeks.

“We don’t under estimate how difficult it will be for some people to lose weight or stop smoking and we will continue to support them. If they are able to do this it will also have long term health benefits for them.

“We are committed to being open about what we are considering and how the decisions are being made. We are publishing our decisions and producing information for the patients affected about the available treatment options for them.

“The CCG has a legal duty to live within its financial resources and the prioritisation of services is helping us to do that.”

The CCG is expected to announce a further round of measures in due course.

Estimated number of people affected by urgent and necessary measures

According to Public Health estimates of obesity, along with records of numbers of procedures undertaken, about 15,000 people in the NEW Devon CCG area are likely to be affected by triggering weight loss at a BMI of 35.

A requirement for eight weeks' smoking cessation will affect about 20,000 patients.

Some patients will fall into both of these categories of course.

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