This Mental Health Awareness Week, could you lift someone out of loneliness?

This Mental Health Awareness Week, could you lift someone out of loneliness?

Local health leaders are backing a national drive to tackle loneliness and improve mental health and wellbeing among young adults during national Mental Health Week (9-15 May).

Research suggests that people in this age group are at a higher risk of feeling lonely compared to other age groups, but less likely to seek advice and support

The ‘Lift Someone Out of Loneliness’ campaign encourages people to connect with others and take simple steps to improve mental wellbeing such as connecting with friends, joining groups, helping others and doing things they enjoy.

Dr Jonathan Hayes, Clinical Chair at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) said:

Good mental health and wellbeing is a high priority for local health services so this campaign is very welcome at a time when many people are feeling the effects of loneliness.
As well as providing a wide range of services to support those suffering with mental health problems, we also want to help residents help themselves and enable them to access the right support.

Feeling lonely is something that all of us can experience at any point and can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. We want to reinforce the message that it is OK not to be OK and that help is out there if you want it.
Residents who are concerned about their own mental health should, in the first instance, contact their GP for advice. But there are also many other resources and services that residents in our region can use.

These resources include:

24/7 Support & Connect helpline (0800 0126549) – a free confidential service staffed by experienced counsellors, who you can talk to and they will listen. They offer emotional support and can connect you to organisations available in Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire.

• If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, low mood or excessive worry, VitaMinds can provide you with advice, guidance and support. VitaMinds provides a range of evidence-based talking therapies as well as guidance and advice on community services that can support you in your local area.

• The NHS Mental Health Hub, where users can take a quick online self-assessment test, which will indicate whether they are depressed and need medical help, or are simply feeling low.

Well Aware – an online guide to health, wellbeing and community services in Bristol and South Gloucestershire

• The BNSSG CCG website that lists a large range of organisation in our area that offer support

The Mix offers free confidential help for under-25s to get support online and via a helpline (0808 808 4494)

Advice for loneliness

1. Keep in touch with those around you

Talk to friends and family. Sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference, whether someone is around the corner or further away.

2. Join a group

Find a group with a shared interest. Being part of an offline or online group or club is a great way to make connections and meet people. Think about activities that you would like to try out and look for groups centred around these.

3. Do things you enjoy

Filling your time doing more things you like can stop you from focusing on feelings of loneliness and is good for your wellbeing.

4. Share your feelings – but do not compare

Being able to talk about how you feel with others can help with loneliness and hearing a familiar voice or seeing a friendly face makes us feel less isolated.

5. Help someone else feel connected

Reach out to others – think about people you know who might be feeling lonely and make an effort to connect with them.

Think about making time to volunteer – it’s a great way to meet people and connect, and seeing the benefits of your actions can really help to boost your own mental wellbeing.


New Chief Medical Officer designate appointed to Integrated Care Board

New Chief Medical Officer designate appointed to Integrated Care Board for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire

The Integrated Care Board (ICB) for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) has appointed Dr Joanne Medhurst as its Chief Medical Officer designate.

The ICB is the new statutory body within the wider Integrated Care System (ICS) for the area, known as the Healthier Together Partnership. Following Royal Assent of the Health and Care Bill last week, ICBs will come into being across the country on July 1st 2022.

As Chief Medical Officer for the ICB, Joanne will be responsible for developing a clinical strategy, providing senior clinical leadership to colleagues across the health and care system, and ensuring high-quality services for a population of just over one million people.

Joanne is General Practitioner (GP) and current Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive at the Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, where she has worked since December 2012. The Trust provides a range of services to a diverse population of 2.8 million people.

As the Responsible Officer, Joanne and leads on clinical effectiveness, quality improvement and innovation and recently on population health. She was the pandemic accountable officer and Director of Infection Prevention and Control, and has supported regional implementation of the Virtual Ward Programme.

Joanne has held previous roles including joint Managing Director and Medical Director of the NHS Southeast London Bexley Business Support Unit and in GP education. In 2013 she participated in the Generation Q Masters programme and remains a Fellow of the Health Foundation.

Speaking on her appointment, she said:

“I am excited and privileged to be appointed to this role and look forward to joining the ICB as it comes into place from 1 July.

“The development of the organisation provides us with a unique opportunity to put population health at the heart of all we do in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire – improving outcomes and experience for everyone.”

Shane Devlin, CEO-designate of the Integrated Care Board, added:

“I am delighted to be welcoming Joanne to the organisation and my executive team.

“Joanne brings a wealth of clinical and operational expertise, as well as experience leading transformational change. This will be hugely valuable as we develop the ICB and continue to make the health, care and wellbeing improvements that matter most to people.”


World Immunization Week: Come forward for vaccinations and boosters

World Immunisation Week: Come forward for vaccinations and boosters

In Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) over 2 million COVID-19 vaccinations have been given and nearly 85% of people aged 16 or over have had their first vaccination – cause for celebration this World Immunization Week.

In Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire:

  • 2,114,054 COVID-19 vaccinations have been given, altogether
  • 36,755 vaccinations have been given in outreach clinics
  • 6% of everyone aged 16 and over
  • Vaccinations have been given at 53 GP clinics, 13 community pharmacy clinics, 3 hospital clinics and 1 large vaccination centre.

The awareness week, which runs until 30 April 2022, highlights the collective action needed to protect people from deadly viruses, and promotes the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

Director of Public Health for Bristol City Council, Christina Gray said:

“I would like to thank everyone who has already come forward for their vaccinations and boosters. The vaccination programme has been a tremendous success locally, highlighting an incredible display of commitment from healthcare colleagues, volunteers and residents.

“COVID-19 is still prevalent in our area and vaccination remains our strongest line of defence. As we learn to live with the virus, it is important that we continue to be community-minded and protect those most vulnerable by taking up the vaccine offer that we have available to us.”

Director of Public Health for South Gloucestershire, Sara Blackmore, said:

“In South Gloucestershire, our vaccination uptake has been excellent, and I thank everyone who has come forward for their vaccine. We have vaccinated 87% of people aged 12 and over with a first dose, nearly 84% with a second dose and just under 70% with a booster.

“We are still living with Covid and need to continue to focus on living safely with the virus with effective prevention and control. Vaccination is crucial to us all moving forward and giving ourselves the best possible protection against Covid. If you haven’t yet had all the doses you are eligible for, I urge you to have them as soon as possible to help keep yourself and others safe.”

Matt Lenny, North Somerset Council’s Director of Public Health, said:

“Vaccination is our best defence against coronavirus. Thank you to everyone across our region who’s done their bit and come forward for the first, second and booster doses of the covid vaccine.

“If you haven’t got round to getting your jabs yet, for whatever reason, it’s not too late.

The vaccination clinic teams will welcome you. Just go online to the National Booking System to book your appointment or find local walk-in clinics on www.grabajab.net.

“The COVID-19 vaccination programme is just one of the vaccinations available  to help reduce the risk of infections from preventable diseases. It’s important people come forward when invited for other immunisations, too.

Dr Geeta Iyer, Clinical Lead for the BNSSG COVID-19 Vaccination Programme said:

“Vaccination remains the first line of defence against COVID-19 and the success of the Vaccination Programme has led to the removal of COVID restrictions in the UK. In common with World Immunization Week, our aim, is to make sure that everyone in our local area is protected from the worst effects of the COVID-19 virus by having the vaccine.

“There’s been a fantastic response from people in our area coming forward to have their vaccinations. We’d like to remind everyone that it’s really important to have all the COVID vaccinations you are eligible for, in order to stay protected. It’s never too late to have any of your COVID-19 vaccinations and you can find out details of all the ways to be vaccinated in our area at www.grabajab.net.”

You can find up to date information on whether you are eligible for further COVID-19 vaccinations here.


Weston General Hospital Survey

Survey shows strong support for improvements at Weston General Hospital

A recent survey of almost 900 local people – including hospital staff – has shown strong support for changes proposed under the Healthy Weston programme to services at Weston General Hospital.
The open survey, undertaken as part of a second phase of work to secure a strong and sustainable future for the hospital, found that 85% of people agree that services need to change — and 91% support improvements to same day emergency care.

The survey asked people for their views on early thinking from the local NHS on proposals – designed by senior doctors, nurses and other health professionals – to change the way some services are delivered. The proposals have been designed to ensure that more people can undergo planned procedures locally each year, and the hospital can attract the staff it needs to thrive.

The emerging proposals set out how A&E would continue to run 14 hours a day, 7 days a week with additional specialist care provided so that more people could be treated and return home on the same day. Plans also include creating two onsite ‘centres of excellence’ for surgery and older people’s care.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 85% of people agree that services at Weston General Hospital need to change.
  • 91% support improvements to same day emergency care at A&E.
  • 86% support making Weston General Hospital a centre of excellence for surgical training to attract new staff and provide development opportunities for existing staff.
  • 68% support the idea of transferring patients who require an unplanned inpatient stay to neighbouring hospitals.
  • 90% support plans to help older people avoid hospital stays and make any necessary hospital admissions as short as possible.

The results of the survey, which was part of a wider programme of engagement with staff, patients and local people, will be used to inform the development of the draft proposals. These will be subject to further engagement over the coming months.

Speaking about the survey results, Annabel Plaister, a public governor at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust representing North Somerset said:

“This survey shows that local people support change at Weston General to help it become the best it can be. There are exciting opportunities for Weston General Hospital and making sure that the patient and public voice is part of that is so important. I’m really pleased to see that local people are being asked for their views as part of the process of further improvement.”

Dr Andrew Hollowood, Medical Director at Weston General Hospital, said:

“It’s great to see there is public support for increasing the numbers of planned operations we could provide locally, preserving the 14/7 A&E service and improving same day emergency care.

“There is a real opportunity to secure a bright and sustainable future for Weston General Hospital. We want to be able to respond effectively to the health needs of the local population, providing more of the services people need most often.”

The NHS will now use the results of the survey, along with other feedback from staff, patients and the public, to refine the proposals ahead of further engagement expected in the summer.


Children’s vaccination pods help 5-11s get protected against COVID-19

Children’s vaccination pods help 5-11s get protected against COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccinations for all 5 to 11 year olds are being delivered at dedicated children’s clinics run by GPs, community pharmacies and the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol. A children’s area with themed vaccination pods has been created at UWE to make the large, open space more inviting for children.

Vaccinators will welcome children to the under-the-sea or spaceship themed pods, and children will receive specially designed vaccination passports, stickers and certificates to take away.

Interviewed for ITV Westcountry, Claire Armour, Programme Lead for the BNSSG Vaccination Programme said:

“This is quite a large space that could be potentially a bit intimidating for some of the younger children, so what we’ve tried to do is make it a lot more welcoming and give them a few distractions….so they feel a lot more confident and comfortable coming forward for their COVID-19 vaccine.”

Parents/carers in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire can make an appointment using the online National Booking Service or by calling 119. GPs may also be in touch to offer a vaccination and children can attend some walk-in centres.

Whether at the UWE Vaccination Centre, a GP practice or community pharmacy, parents/carers will have time before the vaccination appointment to discuss all aspects of the vaccine for children.

Younger children receive a lower (paediatric) dose of the vaccine to help reduce the risk of children falling seriously ill with the virus. They are offered two 10 microgram doses of the Cominratiy (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccine with an interval of at least 12 weeks between doses.

Children who are immunosuppressed or household contact of someone who is severely immunosuppressed will be offered a third, booster dose.

More information is available on conditions that make children clinically extremely vulnerable in chapter 14a of the JCVI green book.

You can find up to date information for all the vaccination options in our area here.

Video credit: ITV Westcountry


Future vision for Weston General Hospital

Local NHS sets out vision for sustainable future at Weston General Hospital alongside favoured option for change

A fresh vision for services at Weston General Hospital will be shared with local Councillors at a key meeting soon.

The local NHS is setting out proposals to change the way some services are delivered, so that more people can receive their hospital treatment locally each year, and the hospital can attract the staff it needs to thrive. The proposals – designed by senior doctors, nurses and other health professionals – are part of a second phase of work to secure a strong and sustainable future for the hospital, following a first phase in 2019.

Thousands more planned procedures, including cataracts and hip and knee operations, could take place in Weston General Hospital every year under the proposals. The A&E would continue to run 14 hours a day, 7 days a week – with additional specialist care provided so that more people could be treated and return home on the same day. Two onsite ‘centres of excellence’ would also be created for surgery and older people’s care.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have been developing the potential new model together. They have identified two possible options for implementation.

Option 2 is favoured for progression:

  • Option 1: Patients in ambulances (other than older people) who may need more than 24 hours’ medical inpatient care would be taken straight to a neighbouring hospital for their treatment.
  • Option 2: Patients in ambulances (other than older people) who may need more than 24 hours’ medical inpatient care would be taken to Weston General Hospital, as they are today. If they required ongoing inpatient care they would be transferred to a neighbouring hospital for treatment.

Although a full evaluation of both options is still in progress, senior doctors and other health professionals are strongly in favour of Option 2, because it:

  • Enables more people of all ages to be treated locally.
  • Enables more emergency patients to be treated at Weston A&E.
  • Improves the availability of emergency ambulances due to reduced journey times.
  • Is more likely to attract and retain staff for the longer term.

A recent survey of almost 900 local people – including hospital staff – found that 85% agree that services at the hospital need to change, and 68% support the idea of transferring patients who require an unplanned inpatient stay to neighbouring hospitals. There was also widespread support (91%) for improvements to same day emergency care at A&E, which both options would enable.

The proposals build on the first phase of work in 2019, which included enhancement of children’s urgent care provision in line with the rising number of young families coming to live in the area. In addition to the specific proposals being put forward, work continues to develop and improve existing services such as maternity, cancer care and outpatients.

Dr Andrew Hollowood, Medical Director at Weston General Hospital said:

“This is a great opportunity to secure a bright and sustainable future for Weston General Hospital, and we are looking forward to discussing our proposals with local Councillors. We want to be able to provide more of the services people need most often and are confident these proposals would help us secure that.
“As well as increasing the numbers of planned operations we could provide locally, preserving the 14/7 A&E service and improving same day emergency care is something we’ve had good public support for so far.
“Responding effectively to the health needs of the local population remains critical in this concluding phase of the work.”

A meeting of the North Somerset Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel on 20 April 2022 will consider whether the proposed model of care and potential options require a formal public consultation. Even without the requirement for a public consultation, the NHS would conduct an extended period of public and staff engagement before any decisions or changes were made – with any implementation likely to take place in early 2023.

Further details are set out in a paper submitted to the North Somerset Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel (HOSP) which has been published on the North Somerset Council website. The meeting of the North Somerset HOSP will take place at 13:30 on 20 April 2022. More information about the meeting is available at
https://n-somerset.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=147&MId=938&Ver=4


Order your repeat prescriptions ahead of Easter

Don’t go hunting for medication over the Easter weekend – plan ahead and order your repeat prescriptions early

Residents in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire who take regular prescription medicines are being advised to think ahead and make sure they have adequate supply before the bank holiday weekend (Friday 15 April to Monday 18 April), allowing at least 48 hours for GP practices to process any requests.

Dr Peter Brindle, Medical Director for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“While we do have some pharmacies and healthcare settings open on the Bank Holidays and over the weekend, many of them will be closed. By checking if you have enough of your repeat medication to last you over the Easter period and ordering any medication you need in good time, you will save yourself the worry of running out over the long weekend.

“With our health and care services still under immense pressure, please can we ask that you do not come to A&E if you run out of medication. Instead, please either contact your usual pharmacy if it is open or contact another pharmacy. You can also call 111 for advice. Can we remind you that you should endeavour to always make sure you have basic medication at home to treat very minor ailments like coughs and colds and also do not visit healthcare settings, including pharmacies, if you have symptoms of Covid-19.”

Ordering repeat prescriptions can be done online with many GP practices, who can also send prescriptions directly to local pharmacies for collection. Getting prescriptions online can save time and help avoid unnecessary trips to the GP.

A list of pharmacies and their opening times over the Easter weekend can be found on the NHS website.
Residents can also still get their Covid-19 vaccinations or boosters. Taking up the Covid-19 booster avoids the risk of serious illness – see www.grabajab.net for details.

Urgent care services including the minor injury units in Yate and Clevedon and the urgent treatment centre in South Bristol are open as usual, from 8am to 8pm throughout the holiday period.

For urgent advice and help in accessing the right service, contact NHS 111 at any time or visit www.nhs.uk to find services near you.


NHS survey seeks views on next steps to further improve services at Weston General Hospital

NHS survey seeks views on next steps to further improve services at Weston General Hospital

The NHS in Weston-super-Mare, Worle and surrounding areas is asking local people to respond to a survey about its vision and ambition to secure Weston General Hospital as a thriving hospital at the heart of the community.

The survey, published at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NextStepsForHealthyWeston asks for people’s views on a recent update on the second phase of the Healthy Weston programme. The update sets out the future ambition for three key areas of care – urgent and emergency care, care of older people and planned surgery. The survey runs until midnight on 4 April 2022 and is open to everyone.

Speaking about the survey Dr Andrew Hollowood, Medical Director at Weston General Hospital said,

“We have a big ambition for Weston General Hospital to lead the country as a successful small hospital delivering truly joined-up, safe and high-quality services that meet the specific needs of local people, now and in the future. The changes we implemented at Weston General Hospital a couple of years ago have gone some way to achieving this ambition. However, as set out in the 2019 public consultation, there are more opportunities to explore to bring further resilience and stability to Weston General Hospital. We’re asking local people to tell us what they think about our vision for three key areas of care so we can use this to inform the development of more detailed plans for the future.”

The NHS describes its ambition for the three areas of care as:

  • Ensuring people who come to the emergency department at Weston General Hospital are seen by the right person first time, are treated quickly and have a clear follow-up plan put in place. Most people would be able to go home the same day, while those who require specialist inpatient care will be treated at the most appropriate place, possibly transferring to a larger neighbouring hospital if needed. This includes looking at whether some aspects of emergency care can be better organised across Weston and North Somerset, Somerset, and Bristol as part of a wider network of acute hospitals, each working to their strengths providing efficient, high-quality care. In line with the outcome of the 2019 consultation, urgent and emergency care services will continue to be available at Weston General Hospital 14 hours a day, seven days a week – as is the current provision.
  • Making Weston General Hospital, and the place of Weston, a centre of excellence for the care of older people, supporting individuals to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible, with different health and social care professionals with specialist expertise working together to deliver joined-up high-quality care. Further developing the award-winning Geriatric Emergency Medicine Service (GEMS) will ensure Weston General Hospital leads the way in providing dynamic, proactive and responsive services helping older people avoid hospital stays where possible and making any necessary hospital admissions as short as possible. An expanded GEMS, working closely with the primary care-led Care Home Hub, would make Weston-super-Mare a national leader in the care of older people.
  • Making the most of the opportunity to increase the amount and type of planned operations and procedures at Weston General Hospital, avoiding travel for local people, offering greater choice and faster treatment. Creating a protected, planned care surgical centre where specialist teams treat patients from across Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset, Somerset, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire will help to address waiting list backlogs. This would also create a centre of excellence for training, attracting new, ambitious health and care staff to the area and providing development opportunities for the existing dedicated and committed workforce at Weston General Hospital.

Further details are available here.


COVID-19 Spring booster information

Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 Spring booster

Monday 21 March 2022

From today, Spring booster vaccinations are being offered to people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) who are at greatest risk from COVID-19 infection.

In the latest phase of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, a second booster (fourth vaccination) will be offered to everyone aged 75 and over, people who live in care homes for older people, and people aged 12 and over with a weakened immune system. This includes people with underlying health conditions such as chronic leukaemia or lymphoma, and those who have had immunosuppressive treatment following an organ transplant or have had radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

More about the definition of ‘Immunosupessed’ can be found in Table 3 of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Green Book.

Many people in these groups had their first booster 6 months ago and this additional Spring booster will help protect them from COVID-19 over the summer months, reducing their chances of needing hospital treatment if they do catch the virus.

The best time to have the Spring booster is 6 months after the previous booster and the NHS will invite people to be vaccinated.

At present, COVID-19 is very active in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and infection levels are high, . We want to make sure that everyone who is at greatest risk from COVID infection can have the Spring booster vaccination as soon as possible. 

 

Dr Geeta Iyer, Clinical Director for the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme in BNSSG said:

“Vaccination works, and I’d like to encourage everyone who is eligible for a booster this Spring to take up the invitation when they receive it offer to help protect them over the coming months.

I’d also like to remind everyone that it’s not too late to come forward for your first, second or first booster doses. Information about all the ways you can have your COVID vaccinations in our area can be found at www.grabajab.net.”

 

The NHS will contact people who are eligible for a Spring booster to invite them to book an appointment using the online National Booking Service or by calling 119. GPs will also invite their patients for vaccination, or they can attend a walk-in clinic in our area. People who are housebound and managers of care homes for older people will be contacted to arrange a visit.

Please visit www.grabajab.net for information about all vaccination options in our area, including a list of walk-in clinics.

If you have had COVID-19 you should wait 4 weeks before having your Spring booster. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating or waiting for a COVID-19 test.

More information on booster vaccinations is available on the NHS website and an information leaflet on the Spring booster vaccination is available to download.


Non-executive members confirmed for Integrated Care Board

Five independent non-executive members have been appointed to the emerging Integrated Care Board (ICB) for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG).

Each member will sit on the ICB, which is a key part of the overall Integrated Care System (ICS) and will also each chair a board sub-committee. The new members, and their respective sub-committees are:

 

• John Cappock - Audit Committee

• Jaya Chakrabarti - People Committee

• Ellen Donovan - Quality and Performance Committee and Remuneration Committee

• Alison Moon - Primary Care Committee

• Professor Steve West - Finance Committee

 

The appointees will serve the ICB - which is due to be established on 1 July 2022 – and will help shape the long-term, viable plan for the delivery of the functions, duties, and objectives of NHS BNSSG ICB, and for the stewardship of public money. These appointments are the result of a competitive process.

Announcing the appointments, chair-designate of the ICB, Jeff Farrar, said:

“I am delighted with the high-quality of the candidates and the appointments to the board. With these new members, we will have a huge diversity of experience and breath of perspective which will be essential to the future operations of the ICS.

“The appointees will bring independent oversight and constructive challenge to the priorities, plans and performance of the ICB executive team, and promote open and transparent decision-making.

“Our independent non-executive members will have a key role in making sure the voice and needs of patients and communities are central to ICB discussions and decisions, so that services are inclusive and accessible to the whole population and deliver the best possible health outcomes for all.

"We have big ambitions as Healthier Together – to improve people’s health and happiness, provide services that fit in with people’s lives and tackle the inequalities some groups face. I am confident our emerging board will be able to tackle these challenges, and I look forward to working with the new team.”

Steve, Ellen, and Jaya will start their tenure as designates on 1 April 2022. John and Alison, who are currently lay members with the CCG, start on 1 July 2022.

The Health and Care Bill that is expected to put Integrated Care Systems on a statutory footing (to be comprised of an Integrated Care Board and a wider Integrated Care Partnership) is currently progressing through Parliament.

The changes are set to commence from 1 July 2022 and are designed to accelerate the progress made in recent years to better integrate health and care services around people’s needs.