Monthly Archives: September 2017

A simple vaccination can help protect you and others this winter

The annual fight against flu has begun and people living in East Berkshire are being encouraged to have their vaccination to help Stay Well This Winter.

Flu can be a very serious illness for some people. It can lead to more severe complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in hospital or even death. There has been a serious outbreak of flu in Australia this year and we want as many people to be as protected as possible.

The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.

The flu vaccination is available for free on the NHS for various groups and individuals that could be particularly vulnerable to complications.

This year, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination if you are:

  • Aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2018)
  • Aged from 6 months to less than 65 years of ages with a serious medical condition which includes chronic (long term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis; chronic heart disease, such as heart failure; chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or five; chronic liver disease; chronic neurological disease such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease, or learning disability; diabetes; splenic dysfunction; weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment); morbidly obese (defined as BMI of 40 and above)
  • You are pregnant (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season)
  • A child aged two to nine on 31 August 2016
  • Living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. Please note that this does not include prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence
  • You are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or if you are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill

If you do not fall within any of the above groups, you can still have the vaccination by paying for it at your local pharmacist.

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, extreme tiredness and aches and pains in the joints and muscles.  Healthy individuals usually recover within a week, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.  If you do get the flu make sure you rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthily.  Taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce any fever or discomfort, can also help.

Flu is caused by influenza viruses and not bacteria. Therefore, antibiotics will not help to treat it.  However, if there are complications from getting flu, antibiotics may be needed.

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed. You can prevent the spread of the virus by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you can wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.

Associate Director for Nursing and Quality, Jo Greengrass, from the East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “Getting your flu vaccine is easy. Simply call and book an appointment with your doctor, midwife or pharmacy.

“Some GP surgeries across East Berkshire are offering flu clinics on certain dates/ times for those who are eligible for the free vaccine, so it would be worth you checking these details by either calling them or visiting their website. Some surgeries are sending our invitations to attend these clinics.

She added: “The best time to have your vaccination is in the autumn, so anytime between now and early November is good.

“If you have a long term condition such as asthma, diabetes, a neurological disease or chronic liver, kidney or lung disease, or indeed if you are pregnant, then protecting yourself against flu is vital.

“Flu can also be serious for young children and because they mix with so many family members they are called ‘superspreaders’. For these reasons, we feel it is really important for them to be vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them.”

This year, children in Reception, Years 1, 2, 3 and 4 (aged up to 9 years on 31 August 2017) will be offered the free flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray in schools. Children aged two to three will continue to have theirs via their GP.

The strain of flu can change each year so even if you were vaccinated last year, you are being advised to vaccinate again this year.

This is the first of a series of press releases to be published by the East Berkshire CCGs as part of their on-going efforts to ensure people Stay Well this winter.

New Thames Valley Integrated Urgent Care (IUC) Service is launched

People across the Thames Valley (Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire) now have new and improved access to urgent care services.
Launched on Tuesday 5 September, the new Thames Valley IUC 111 service will help people access a wide range of clinical care through a single call, including dental, pharmacy and mental health services, ensuring patients get the right care, first time.

This new service is provided by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) in collaboration with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Buckinghamshire Healthcare.
The contract was awarded by the 10 Clinical Commissioning Groups across the Thames Valley in July 2017 after a thorough and rigorous procurement process involving clinicians, specialists and NHS managers in the decision-making.
Philip Astle, chief operating officer at SCAS, said: “From today, patients will continue to call the 111 number and the trained call handler will assess the person’s needs. They will be able to arrange for the patient to see or speak to a clinically trained healthcare professional, including GPs where this is clinically appropriate.

“It is expected that approximately 30 per cent of calls will be handled by a clinically trained healthcare professional from day one of the new service.

“For the launch, clinicians will be based at SCAS Headquarters in Bicester and at the Berkshire Healthcare Hub in Wokingham, linked via a telephone network to allow seamless management of patients.”
Sam Burrows, the senior responsible officer for the procurement process, said: “In 2015, NHS England announced that NHS 111 would integrate with out-of-hours providers to form an integrated urgent care model with the intention of delivering a more streamlined service, increasing the chance of getting the patient to the right place, first time.
“To bring about the Thames Valley Integrated Urgent Care (TVIUC) service, a new specification was developed, with an enhanced form of triage, a new workforce, new commissioning standards and quality measures. Clinical governance of this new model will be a joint process with regional leadership and central oversight.”

From day one, the service will draw on the best practice of the organisations within the alliance to support patient care across the region via the clinical hub, offering enhancements over the current 111 service including:

• GP clinical leadership and triage within the service
• dental nurse assessment
• community psychiatric nursing and improved access to mental health crisis teams across the week
• paediatric specialists
• prescribing pharmacist
• tailored support to care and nursing homes
• early intervention for under-fives, over 85s and end of life patients
• phased direct booking of appointments in out of hours across Thames Valley
• enhanced assessment of cases recommended to attend Emergency Departments or receive a Green ambulance (60 minute) response by a clinician
• improved support for self-care where clinically appropriate
• Improved transfer of patient information and access to care records.

Patients will be confident that, with one call to 111, the care they are directed to will meet their physical, mental and social care needs in a timely and clinically safe manner.

Health and social care professionals will be confident that the 111 integrated urgent care service has assessed and managed patients appropriately, placing them with the service which can most effectively meet their needs.

Where integrated urgent care services have been launched elsewhere in the UK they have demonstrated that an enhanced review can downgrade A&E and green ambulance calls (60 minute response time).

A film featuring James Ray, A&E Consultant, Carol Trower, Chief Executive Officer for Thames Valley Pharmacy and Phillip Astle, Chief Operating Officer at SCAS, explaining the benefit of the service is available here
The 10 CCGs in the Thames Valley are:
• Aylesbury Vale
• Bracknell and Ascot
• Chiltern
• Newbury & District
• North & West Reading
• Oxfordshire
• Slough
• South Reading
• Windsor, Ascot & Maidenhead
• Wokingham