November 2015

“Use the right NHS service to stay well this winter,” say local doctors

27 November 2015

Doctors in Devon are reminding people of all the services available to help them to stay well this winter.
 
Cold weather can put the NHS under strain so people are being asked to use health services wisely, using self-care where possible.
 
The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital reported that some of the conditions that people are visiting A&E with include minor throat and skin problems, and sports injuries, most of which could be better treated elsewhere.
 
Local doctors are asking people to only visit A&E in an emergency.
 
Dr David Jenner, a GP from Eastern Devon and clinical chair for NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG), said:
 
“There are a great range of other NHS services in Devon that could help treat people quicker and avoid them having to wait up to four hours to be seen at an A&E.
 
“If it’s not an emergency people should visit or phone their GP practice, pharmacy, minor injuries unit or NHS 111. A&E departments need to be able to concentrate on the most seriously ill and injured patients, and not dealing with trivial complaints.”
 
Doctors are also reminding people to look after themselves and others in the colder weather.
 
Dr Jenner added: “Simple things like checking on a neighbour, keeping warm and making sure cabinets are stocked with over the counter medicines are just some ways people can avoid having to use stretched NHS services.”

The following handy tips have been issued by NHS NEW Devon CCG:
 
  • Keep yourself warm - heat your home to least 18 degrees C or (65F) if you can. In significantly cold weather, if it is not possible to keep the whole house warm, people should try to keep one main room and the bedroom warm. The best way to stay warm is to wear several small layers of clothing rather than a few thick clothing items.
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious. It is useful to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet so you can be prepared for the most common illnesses.
  • 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.
  • Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter. People who are over 65 and live on their own are advised to arrange for someone to call to their house or to telephone at least once a day.

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 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.
  • 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

Robin Community Assessment Hub officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth

17 November 2015

On Monday 16 November 2015, Robin Community Assessment Hub, the alternative urgent care service for people with acute health problems, was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth at Mount Gould Hospital.

Robin Community Assessment Hub is a seven day a week community based service that has been specifically designed to enable treatment and tests for acutely unwell patients to be completed without the need for a hospital stay.

Based at Mount Gould Hospital, it offers a ‘multidisciplinary’ team of nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social care staff, a prescribing pharmacist and an acute GP.


Robin offers eight beds and eight treatment chairs and can complete a wide range of investigations and treatments that will prevent admission to an acute care setting. Referrals in to Robin can be made by a GP, NHS 111, Devon Doctors and South Western Ambulance Service.

Piloted last winter in partnership with NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, Robin is designed to provide an alternative to the emergency department at Derriford. The model was recognised as a success, with Robin supporting over 30 people in its first week alone.

Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Dr John Mahony, said: “I’m delighted to be able to officially open the pioneering new Robin Community Assessment Hub. This is a great facility for the people of Plymouth and having all the different health and social care professionals working closely together in this way is a great example of what has been achieved here already through integration.

As a former GP myself I am only too aware that the health and care system can be complex for people to have to navigate. The new centre will also help relieve some of the pressure on emergency services by providing care in a more appropriate setting.”

Steve Waite, Chief Executive at Plymouth Community Healthcare said: “Robin Community Assessment Hub forms part of our approach to preventing unnecessary admissions to the emergency department at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Frail patients benefit particularly from this model of care, with enhanced diagnostics and assessment from our multidisciplinary team helping to avoid hospital admission and enabling them to return home quickly with the right home care packages in place.

As an integrated care service, Robin brings together professionals from both health and social care, meaning we can offer patients the right care at the right time, and keep them safe, well and at home.”

Dr Dafydd Jones, a local GP and urgent care lead clinician for NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are delighted that this new service is officially opening today. The whole urgent care system has been under pressure for a considerable time; staff at Derriford Hospital, and across the area, have been working really hard to cope with the number of sick people requiring treatment.

“The Robin Community Assessment Hub is a real sign of all organisations working closely together and we hope that we can offer patients a better service and relieve some of the pressure at the hospital.”

The work undertaken by the team at Robin was recently recognised by the Nursing Times, with Robin being shortlisted in the Emergency and Critical Care category for this year’s Nursing Times Awards.

Listen to Your Gut campaign launched to tackle antibiotic misuse

13 November 2015

A campaign to help parents care for their children when they have minor ailments like coughs and colds, without using unnecessary antibiotics, has been launched across Devon.

The Devon County Council Public Health campaign ‘Listen to Your Gut’ follows a successful pilot by parents at the Braunton and Ilfracombe Children’s centre, which saw the development of a social media campaign consisting of an animation of ‘talking tums’. 

These tums represent parents in the playground sharing tips for treating minor ailments, looking after healthy gut bacteria and avoiding the side effects of antibiotics.
As part of the campaign, self-help treatment guides will be available through pharmacists and GPs.  

Produced by Public Health England and delivered in partnership with NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG), the guides are designed to support people in treating their children’s minor illness at home.

The campaign will launch to coincide with the national Antibiotic Guardian awareness week and campaign day on Wednesday 18 November.

Dr Tim Burke, a GP from North Devon and chair of NHS NEW Devon CCG said: “We know that most people will get better from most coughs and colds without antibiotics. People often just need to take care, not antibiotics.

“If we do need antibiotics however, we can all play our part in helping to ensure that we don’t have more and more bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, by always completing the course as instructed and never skipping doses or saving them for later.”

Dr Virginia Pearson, Devon County Council’s Director of Public Health, said:  “We want not only to empower parents to trust their gut instinct when looking after their children this winter, but also to know the importance of their children’s healthy gut bacteria.

"We are really pleased to be working in partnership with GPs and  pharmacists across Devon, who can issue personalised treatment guides to help parents care for their child.”

Tom Lewis, consultant microbiologist said:  “Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria, and our bodies live in partnership with them.

“We know that these bacteria produce essential vitamins, such as Vitamin K. Some evidence suggests that they also help us develop healthy immune systems, and may help us digest our food in ways that keep us more healthy.”

Councillor Andrea Davis, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, is encouraging people to sign up to become an antibiotic guardian, by signing the national pledge.

“Following on from last year’s successful pilot in Ilfracombe, we are rolling this campaign out across Devon this year, to encourage parents to avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics,” said Councillor Davis.

“We need to protect these important drugs for future generations, and it’s vital that we act now to do so.  We all have a role to play, as patients, as parents and, by signing up to the pledge, as antibiotic guardians.”

Exeter mum of three Sarah Ogilvy, said:  “The campaign is great.  It’s really important to know that your child can go from one to cold to another and that antibiotics won’t do any good. I worry about antibiotics because they can wipe out all the good stuff.”

Sign the pledge and become an antibiotic guardian here or join the conversation on Twitter using #antibioticguardian

Find out more about Listen to your Gut campaign here.

Self Care Week 2015: Advice from doctors in Devon

13 November 2015

Local doctors are urging people to look after themselves during Self Care Week (16-22 November) and to find out about what they can do to stay well this winter.  


Self Care Week is a national campaign which aims to support people to look after their health.

This year’s theme is ‘Self Care for Life’. It’s about helping people to better understand how to look after minor illnesses or long-term conditions, and how to prevent ill health by choosing healthy options for good physical and mental wellbeing.

Dr Simon Kerr, a GP from East Devon and a clinical lead for the CCG, said: “It is really important to look after yourself, especially as we are getting closer to winter.

“Taking care of yourself and others in colder weather is the best way to prevent illness.

“If you do start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or cold, get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious.”

One of the most important things you can do to look after yourself this winter is to get your flu vaccination if you are eligible.

Although flu symptoms are usually quite mild, they can be very serious. Healthy people usually recover in two to seven days, but the disease can lead to hospitalisation, disability, or even death for those who are more vulnerable.  

Dr Kerr added: “If you are eligible for the vaccine, it’s because you need it. Getting the vaccine is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and the people around you from catching the flu this winter.”

Doctors in Devon have suggested the following steps to stay well this winter:
 
  • Keep yourself warm - heat your home to least 18 degrees C or (65F) if you can. In significantly cold weather, if it is not possible to keep the whole house warm, people should try to keep one main room and the bedroom warm. The best way to stay warm is to wear several small layers of clothing rather than a few thick clothing items.

  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious. It is useful to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet so you can be prepared for the most common illnesses.

  • 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.

  • Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter. People who are over 65 and live on their own are advised to arrange for someone to call to their house or to telephone at least once a day.
 
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 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.

  • 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

  • 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 is only for critical or life-threatening situations eg. blood loss, chest pain, choking, or fainting.
 
More information about managing long-term conditions is available on the NHS website here.

There is also lots of information about improving your health and wellbeing. You can find it here

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