December 2015

10 things you can do now to stay well this winter, by Dr Paul Hardy

18 December 2015

Winter can be bad for our health, which means it is a very busy time for local NHS services, particularly accident and emergency departments.

Winter can be particularly serious for older people and those with long-term health conditions.

The good news is that being prepared for the winter days can help make you less vulnerable to illnesses that are more common at this time of year.

Here, Dr Paul Hardy,  a GP in Plymouth and chair of the Western locality of the CCG, shares his top ten things you can do now to stay well this winter.


1.   Get a flu vaccination if you are eligible If you’ve been offered a free flu vaccination, it’s because you need one. Make sure you get yours if you are eligible - it is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

2.   Try to stay warm Heat your home to at least 18°C. If it is not possible to keep the whole house warm, try to keep one main room and the bedroom warm. The best way to stay warm is to wear several thin layers of clothing rather than a few thick clothing items.
 
3.   Take care to eat well Food gives you energy, which helps you to keep warm, so try to have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day.

4.   Make sure you sleep well According to the Sleep Council, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of a good night’s sleep for health and wellbeing, we sleep six-and-a-half hours a night on average, less than the seven to nine hours recommended. In winter we naturally sleep more, because of the longer nights. Use the time to catch up on any lost sleep.

5.   Try to get some sunlight It’s normal to feel more tired during the winter even if you think you’ve had enough sleep. Less sunlight means that your brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy. Open your blinds or curtains as soon as you get up to let more sunlight into your home and if you can, get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible.

6.   Try to get some vitamin D The lack of sunshine over the winter months can mean you don’t get enough vitamin D, and that can make you feel tired. In the UK we can’t really make any vitamin D from winter daylight between November and March so we need to get vitamin D from our diets. Good sources of vitamin D are oily fish, eggs and meat. If you’re at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including if you’re 65 or over, you should consider taking a daily supplement.
 
7.   Try to get some exercise Exercise might be the last thing you want to do on a winter's evening, but you’ll feel more energetic if you get involved in some kind of physical activity every day. If you’re aware you're being less active, you could try taking a winter walk or tackling a new activity that gets you moving more.

If the weather is poor consider a swim or a trip to the gym. Not everybody enjoys time spent in a sports centre, so consider dance classes or yoga as an alternative activity to keep you moving.

If you have reduced mobility or are housebound, there are a variety of sitting exercises you could try which are useful to maintain current activity levels and reduce the risk of trips and falls. These can be found by clicking here.  

Make sure you seek advice before trying anything new.  

8.   Think about using your local pharmacy If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or cold, get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious.  

If you want to be really prepared, you could speak to your pharmacist about medicines you should have in stock to help get you and your family through the winter season. Paracetamol should be high on the list of remedies that we all ought to have at home ready for use, as long as it is stored safely. By the time you start to feel unwell or have the flu, you may not want to go outside, so it is best to be prepared.

9.  Make sure you take your prescribed medicines as directed Always take your prescribed medicines as directed, or speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you have stopped taking them or started taking them differently for any reason. Put a note in your diary now to remember to pick up any regular prescription medicines before Christmas Eve so you don’t get caught out.

10.  Try to look out for others Some people may need a bit of extra help over winter. If you know anybody who’s over 65 and lives on their own, arrange to call at their house or to telephone once a day. If you would like to commit to doing this more formally, there are lots of schemes across Devon and Plymouth that you could join.

If you live in Budleigh Salterton or Exeter, you could try becoming a Neighbourhood Friend. Click here to go to the website. 

If you are in Plymouth or Mid Devon, you could volunteer with Age UK's Befriending scheme. Click here to visit the website for Plymouth, or click here to visit the website for Mid Devon.

If you live in North Devon, you could try volunteering with Age Concern Barnstaple and District. Click here to visit the website.

You can also search for services near to you by clicking here if you live in Devon, or here if you live in Plymouth


This article originally featured in the December edition of the CCG's Healthy People newsletter. If you would like to sign up to receive the newletter, email D-CCG.Communications@nhs.net

"Stock up your medicine cabinet while doing your festive shopping," say local doctors

15 December 2015

Doctors in Devon are urging people to put a few extra things on their shopping lists this festive season.

Stocking up on pain-killers, cold and flu remedies, antiseptic cream and more won’t just come in handy this festive season – it could really help ease pressure on local NHS services.

Colds, flu, stomach bugs and other ailments are very common at this time of year. People often visit hospitals with minor illnesses and injuries that could be better treated more quickly elsewhere, or at home.

Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet means you won’t have far to go to treat a sore throat, blocked nose, or a grazed knee.

Other ways to be prepared include making sure you order any repeat prescriptions you need in plenty of time and making sure you know when your local NHS services are open.

GP practices and many pharmacies will be closed on Christmas day and on the festive bank holidays – and doctors are reminding people to be prepared so they don’t get caught out.

Dr John Womersley, a GP in North Devon and chair of the Northern locality of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are reminding people to stock up their medicine cupboards when they are out doing their Christmas shopping.

“It is really easy to add a few extras to your shopping basket to help you treat minor injuries and illnesses at home.

“If you are unsure what you need, have a chat with your local pharmacist, who will be able to advise you on what sorts of things to keep in your medicine cupboard.”

Your local pharmacist can offer free health advice about both prescribed and over the counter medicines, and there is no need to make an appointment.
 
Dr Womersley added: “The winter weather can prevent us from getting out and about and you may not want to leave your house if you become unwell, so it really helps to be prepared.” 
 
 
NHS England has come up with a WINTER checklist to help you stay well this winter: 
 
W   - Warm – Keep your house warm this winter
 
    - Immunisation – Get your flu vaccination
 
N    - Neighbours – Keep an eye on elderly neighbours and relatives
 
T    - Timely – Seek advice from a pharmacist at first sign of illness
 
E    - Enough – Pick up repeat prescriptions so you have enough while
         pharmacies/surgeries are closed
 
R    - Restock – Make sure you have enough food and medicine in the cupboard
 
 
If you do become unwell, make sure you choose the right care for your needs:
 
  • 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. Most pharmacies also provide an emergency prescription service for people who need prescriptions when their surgery is closed. Visit your local pharmacy at the first sign of illness this winter. Your nearest pharmacy can be found here: www.nhs.uk.

  • 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.

  • GP- Your local 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. GP practices will be closed on the bank holidays during the festive period. Make sure you are prepared by ordering any repeat prescriptions in plenty of time.

  • NHS 111 – Call 111 if you are feeling unwell, unsure, or if you want health advice and guidance for non-emergency health needs, 24 hours a day, as well as help to find services. You can also visit www.nhs.uk

Feeling unwell? Don't wait - get advice from your local pharmacy

15 December 2015

People who are suffering from minor ailments such as coughs and colds are being reminded to visit their local pharmacy, before their condition gets worse.
 
With GP surgeries being busy over the winter period, you may be able to get what you need more quickly and easily from your local pharmacist.
 
Pharmacists are able to offer quick advice to patients who feel under the weather and can offer treatments for a cough or cold, fever, sore throat, blocked nose, teething pain, earache and more.
 
Pharmacists are now able to provide some medicines that are usually only available on prescription, saving a trip to see your GP.
 
Most pharmacies also offer an emergency service for people who need repeat prescriptions when their surgery is closed.
 
If your prescriptions are usually free, you will not be charged for any treatments you receive using this service.
 
Dr David Jenner, a GP from Mid Devon and chair of the Eastern locality of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This scheme - known as Pharmacy First - greatly improves patients’ access to services at a pharmacy that they may have previously only been able to get from their doctor.
 
“Of course, we always advise people to be prepared and to make sure they order their repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, but this scheme is a great help when people do find themselves caught out.
 
“Pharmacies are also a great first point of call for minor illnesses and ailments. If more people choose to use their local pharmacist to treat their minor ailment, GPs will have more time to spend treating patients with more urgent or serious needs.”
 
People are also being reminded to speak to their pharmacist about what medicines they should keep at home so they can be prepared for the most common illnesses.
 
Dr Jenner added: “Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet is really important. By the time you start to feel unwell or have the flu, you may not want to go outside, so it is best to be prepared.”
 
 
NHS England has come up with a WINTER checklist to help you stay well this winter: 
 
W   - Warm – Keep your house warm this winter
 
    - Immunisation – Get your flu vaccination
 
N    - Neighbours – Keep an eye on elderly neighbours and relatives
 
T    - Timely – Seek advice from a pharmacist at first sign of illness
 
E    - Enough – Pick up repeat prescriptions so you have enough while
         pharmacies/surgeries are closed
 
R    - Restock – Make sure you have enough food and medicine in the cupboard
 
 
If you do become unwell, make sure you choose the right care for your needs:
 
  • 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.

  • NHS minor injuries units (MIU), urgent care centres (UCC) and walk-in centres (WIC) - for treatment of minor illnesses or injuries, without an appointment. For details of your nearest MIU, visit www.nhs.uk

  • GP - Your local 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. GP practices will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, as well as on the bank holidays on Monday 28 December 2015 and Friday 1 January 2016. Make sure you are prepared by ordering any repeat prescriptions in plenty of time.

  • NHS 111 – Call 111 if you are feeling unwell, unsure, or if you want health advice and guidance for non-emergency health needs, 24 hours a day, as well as help to find services. You can also visit www.nhs.uk.

Patients urged to book GP appointments online

11 December 2015

With the busy festive holidays approaching, people in Devon are being encouraged to book their GP appointments and order their repeat prescriptions online.
 
Nearly all practices are now able to provide this service - called Patient Online – which makes access easier for patients.  The service is accessible from any location via a computer, smartphone or tablet.
 
Dr Paul Hardy, a GP in Plymouth, who is a clinical chair and chief clinical information officer for the CCG, said: “Booking your GP services online offers more convenience, choice and control to patients.
 
“Patients can access these services anytime, anywhere, and it removes the need for them to call or visit the surgery in person for routine assistance.
 
“The response from patients has been very positive. They really appreciate the convenience of the service.

“It’s easy to use and secure, and the registration process is quick and simple and in most cases you will have immediate online access.
 
“Practice staff have said there are fewer phone calls coming in, which means they have more time to talk to those patients who do call and may have complex problems.”
 
NHS England has launched a campaign to promote Patient Online, particularly targeting people who might struggle to find the time to book GP appointments.
 
The campaign is also aimed at carers who often have to make appointments and order repeat prescriptions for relatives and for themselves. 
 
Adverts will be appearing on buses and trains and there will be stands in local shopping centres giving people information about the service. 
 
Dr Hardy added: “With the festive period approaching, we are keen to encourage people to make use of the service to order repeat prescriptions prior to Christmas and the New Year, when many pharmacies will be closed.”
 
Residents can start using the service once they have registered with their GP practice.

"Stay warm this winter," say doctors in Devon

11 December 2015

Doctors in Devon are reminding people to stay warm this winter - and to look after older relatives and neighbours.
 
Keeping warm throughout winter can help prevent colds and flu, or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.  
 
Doctors advise heating your home to at least 18 degrees Celsius, and if you can, you may prefer for your living room to be slightly warmer.
If it is not possible to heat your whole home, try to heat your main living room and your bedroom.  
 
Other ways to stay warm are keeping your bedroom windows closed on cold nights, making sure you stay active when you are indoors as well as outside and wearing warm clothing. Several light layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thick clothing item.
 
Dr Paul Hardy, a GP from Plymouth and chair of the Western locality of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Keeping warm over the winter period is really important, particularly for those who are over 65, those with long-term conditions and those who are disabled, as we know they are more at risk of becoming seriously unwell.  
 
“I would advise people to visit their local pharmacy at the first sign of illness, so they can receive treatment to prevent themselves from becoming more unwell.”
 
People who are on a low income are also more likely to become ill over winter as they may be unable to afford heating.
 
If you are over 65, a Winter Fuel Payment is available to help with the cost of heating your home, and if you receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to receive a Cold Weather Payment.
 
Dr Hardy added: “It is really important for people to find out exactly what help is available to help with the cost of heating their homes.
 
“If you have an elderly neighbour, supporting them to access help is just one of the ways you can look out for them this winter.”
 
More information about how to keep warm can be found on the CCG website here, including information about the help available for older people, low-income families and people living with a disability.

NHS England has come up with a WINTER checklist to help you stay well this winter: 
 
W   - Warm – Keep your house warm this winter
 
    - Immunisation – Get your flu vaccination
 
N    - Neighbours – Keep an eye on elderly neighbours and relatives
 
T    - Timely – Seek advice from a pharmacist at first sign of illness
 
E    - Enough – Pick up repeat prescriptions so you have enough while
         pharmacies/surgeries are closed
 
R    - Restock – Make sure you have enough food and medicine in the                 cupboard
 
 
If you do become unwell, make sure you choose the right care for your needs:

  • 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. Most pharmacies also provide an emergency prescription service for people who need prescriptions when their surgery is closed. Visit your local pharmacy at the first sign of illness this winter. Your nearest pharmacy can be found here: www.nhs.uk.

  • 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.

  • GP- Your local 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. GP practices will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, as well as on the bank holidays on Monday 28 December 2015 and Friday 1 January 2016. Make sure you are prepared by ordering any repeat prescriptions in plenty of time.

  • NHS 111 – Call 111 if you are feeling unwell, unsure, or if you want health advice and guidance for non-emergency health needs, 24 hours a day, as well as help to find services. You can also visit www.nhs.uk

RD&E gains approval to move towards next stage in the procurement for community services in Eastern Devon

3 December 2015

NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG) has today made a decision to proceed towards contract award for community services to the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RDEFT) for the Eastern locality of Devon.

Whilst this important gateway has been reached, it remains subject to further detailed due diligence, in advance of the final decision.  This is a significant milestone in the procurement process, which initially saw the RDEFT named as the preferred provider in November 2014. Now, subject to further detailed due diligence and contract finalisation to meet all the conditions required, the CCG expects to complete this process next year.

This decision at the NHS NEW Devon CCG Governing Body sets the path for community services, including the running of community hospitals, community physiotherapy and nursing, in the Eastern part of Devon, to be provided by the RDEFT, and once the process is complete this is currently anticipated to be from April 2016.

This procurement set out to build on the quality of current community services provided by Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) in Eastern Devon, and to plan a new and sustainable model of care for the future.

The latest part of the procurement period involved a review of Value for Money conducted by independent experts.  In addition, the CCG has undertaken a strategic diligence process to review RDEFT’s plans to deliver the CCG’s strategy for Community Services. The outcomes of these assessments were presented to the CCG’s Governing Body in advance of this decision.

Dr David Jenner, GP from Cullompton and clinical chair for the CCG’s Eastern locality, said:

“Throughout this process, we have put patients at the centre of our decision-making.  This decision now gives us an exciting opportunity to move to the next stage in commissioning the joined up model of services patients in our area have told us they want for the future.”

Rebecca Harriott, chief officer at NHS NEW Devon CCG, said:

“We recognise that Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has provided high quality community services and care to the population of Eastern Devon for five years, and we want to thank them for their achievements over this time. There have been many improvements in community services and we want to build on this.

“We have a rising number of people with complex health needs and now need to look ahead and develop a model of care that is increasingly integrated, personal and sustainable to ensure the whole system of care is ready to cope with the demands ahead.”

Angela Pedder, chief executive of RDEFT, said:

“Aligning community services in Exeter, East and Mid Devon with RDEFT is an important step in developing streamlined pathways of care for local people.

“Working closely with Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, we will now develop plans to safely transfer the services over the coming months. We look forward to welcoming and working with the community services staff, who bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. Sharing and building on this expertise will ensure that, with local our communities, we can begin to shape services which meet people's needs and deliver responsive and efficient care. Em Wilkinson-Brice, Deputy Chief Executive/Chief Nurse at RDEFT will lead the next stages of this work.”

Now that this milestone has been reached for the CCG’s Eastern locality, the detailed due diligence will include preparations towards the transfer from the current provider, NDHT, to the new provider, RDEFT.

Alison Diamond, chief Executive of NDHT, said:

“It has been an immense privilege to work with the health and social care professionals in Exeter, East and Mid Devon since 2011. We have achieved tremendous things on behalf of the communities we serve and we are rightly proud of the way we have transformed these services.

“We have enjoyed learning from each other and wish all our Eastern colleagues the very best in future. All our management and professional efforts are now going into effecting a legally sound and clinically safe transfer of staff and services to the RD&E.”

NDHT already provides the community services in Northern Devon. In November 2014, the Trust was named as the preferred provider for these services in North Devon going forward.  A similar assessment of strategic diligence is now being planned and the CCG’s Governing Body will be asked to make a decision in the early part of 2016.

NOTES

The decision made on 3 December 2015 is not a contract award in itself, but the decision to proceed towards contract award, subject to due diligence and contract negotiation.

The Northern locality is the geographical area of North Devon and Torridge.

The Eastern locality is the geographical area of East Devon, Exeter and Mid Devon, as well as parts of West Devon (e.g. Okehampton).

Papers for the NHS NEW Devon CCG Governing Body are published a week prior to the meeting and can be found here.

The findings from the review of value for money, as well as the strategic diligence, will be published on the CCG website shortly.

Community services in this context are defined as services for adults with complex health needs and include community nursing, therapy and a whole range of other services provided in community hospitals and people’s own home.

Rate this page