Monthly Archives: March 2018

NHS campaign urges people to ‘be prepared’ this Easter

A NHS campaign is urging people to take early action if they start to feel unwell this Easter.

The message to ‘be prepared and stay well’ over the holiday period encourages people most at risk, including those with long-term health conditions and the over 65s, to prepare for the Easter holiday period and to know what to do if they get ill.

This includes seeking advice from a pharmacist as soon as possible and before any illness gets more serious, and ordering prescriptions in advance.

Dr Jonathan Slade, NHS England’s Deputy Medical Director, in Cumbria and the North East, and a practicing GP, said: “Simple steps can be taken to stay well over the Easter period and reduce the chance of serious illness.

“Pharmacies offer convenient, expert advice to people who have the first signs of illness. If you feel your illness is more urgent and need advice about where to go for medical treatment, then you should call NHS 111 – advice is available 24/7.

“Please order you prescription medicines in advance and make sure you are stocked up for the holiday period.”

The ‘be prepared’ call comes at a time when the NHS has faced increased, sustained pressure and unprecedented demand following severe cold weather. There is also a spike in demand on NHS services during the Easter holiday.

Norovirus is continuing to affect NHS trust sites across the region. The virus, which usually starts with a sense of ‘feeling sick’ followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, is highly contagious. Anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should stay away from hospital sites, unless their visit is absolutely necessary.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, Executive Medical Director, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We remain very busy as our beds continue to be full caring for those recovering from illness following the cold weather. Our staff will be working incredibly hard over the Easter period to deliver an excellent service but our services are still in high demand so we need the public to help – please don’t come to A&E unless it is a genuine emergency.

“If you or someone close to you has norovirus please do not come into hospital unless it is absolutely critical. Norovirus cannot be treated and is easy to spread to other patients, their families and our staff.”

Dr Nick Roper, Clinical Director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are still facing severe pressure following the cold weather. Our staff will be working incredibly hard over the Easter period to deliver an excellent service but we need the public to help – please don’t come to A&E unless it is a genuine emergency. And please do not visit our sites if someone you know has symptoms of diarrhoea and sickness.”

If you care for children, the child health app is free to download and offers a wealth of advice and support.

Dr Jonathan Slade added: “General practices will be offering services over the holiday period but you can help ease pressure at a busy time by choosing which service you use wisely.

“For many ailments such as coughs and colds, people don’t need to go to A&E or their local GP practice and are better off taking some paracetamol, drinking plenty of fluids and resting.”

NHS South Tees CCG pharmacy opening times:

Pharmacy Address Telephone Number Good Friday

30th March 2018

Easter Sunday

1st April 2018

Easter Monday

2nd April 2018

Asda Pharmacy 2 North Street, South Bank, Middlesbrough, TS6 6AB, 01642 443 810 09:00 – 18:00 Closed 09:00 – 18:00
Boots Pharmacy Unit 3, Parkway Shopping Centre, Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, TS8 0TJ 01642 594 439 09:00 – 13:00
13:30 – 17:00
Closed 09:00 – 13:00
13:30 – 17:00
Boots Pharmacy One Life Medical Centre, Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 3QY 01642 242 944 09:00 – 16:00 Closed Closed
Boots Pharmacy 88-90 Linthorpe Road, The Cleveland Centre, Middlesbrough, TS1 2JZ, 01642 249 616 08:30 – 18:00 Closed 10:00 – 17:00
Boots Pharmacy 33-35 High Street, Redcar, Cleveland, TS10 3BZ, 01642 482 172 09:00 – 17:30 Closed 10:00 – 17:00
Boots Pharmacy 18 Westgate, Guisborough, Cleveland, TS14 6BA 01287 632 365 09:00 – 17:30 Closed Closed
Boots Pharmacy Cleveland Retail Park, Skippers Lane, Middlesbrough, TS6 6UX, 01642 465 058 09:00 – 18:00 Closed 09:00 – 18:00
Boots Pharmacy Rectory Lane Health Centre, Guisborough, Cleveland, TS14 7DJ 01287 632 120 10:00 – 16:00 Closed 10:00 – 16:00
Boots Pharmacy 4 Kings Road, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, TS3 6NF 01642 231 002 10:00 – 17:00 Closed Closed
Crossfell Pharmacy The Berwick Hills Centre, Ormesby Road, Middlesbrough, TS3 7RP 01642 245 859 Closed 19:30 – 21:30 Closed
Lloyds Pharmacy Low Grange Health Centre, Normanby Road, Middlesbrough, TS6 6TD, 01642 452 066 10:00 – 16:00 10:00 – 18:00 10:00 – 16:00
Lloyds Pharmacy Scandanavian House, 386 Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, TS5 6HA, 01642 812 993 16:00 – 20:00 16:00 – 20:00 16:00 – 20:00
New Marske Pharmacy 1 Beacon Drive, New Marske, Redcar, TS11 8ES 01642 489 246 Closed 10:00 – 12:00 Closed
Pharmacy Express 103 Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 5DD, 01642 244 328 Closed 12:00 – 14:00
19:30 – 21:30
Closed
T Kingston Pharmacy Hillside Medical Centre, Windermere Drive, Skelton, TS12 2TG, 01287 653 790 Closed 19:00 – 21:00 Closed

Successful NHS 111 service will continue to improve under new contract

The successful NHS 111 telephone helpline in the region will continue to improve, as commissioners agree a new contract for the service it was announced today.

Current providers the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust will operate the new service under a five-year contract to start in October 2018.

The service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, helping patients who need medical help fast but do not need to call 999 – as well as anyone who is unsure which service to use.

Dr Neil O’Brien, Chair of the Northern Clinical Commissioning Groups Forum, said: “NHS 111 is a vital part of the urgent and emergency care system in the North East, and helps over 800,000 patients every year to get the care they need.

“The new service builds on this success, including a clinical assessment service meaning patients can conclude their call with advice, a prescription or an appointment for further assessment or treatment.

“With quick and easy access to a service that is fully integrated with other NHS services, patients can have real confidence in the care they will receive.”

A recent Ipsos Mori survey showed 88% of patients using NHS 111 saying they would be likely or extremely likely to recommend the service.

The new service is designed to ensure that most patients’ problems are dealt with on their first call, including a consultation with a clinician where that is needed. Staff will have access to a range of real-time information, including a summary of GP-held patient records, and details of local services such as GP extended hours schemes and community pharmacies.

Staff will also be able to book appointments with local GPs, send prescriptions directly to a convenient pharmacy or dispatch an ambulance where that is necessary.

Clinicians supporting the service – such as dental nurses, mental health nurses and palliative care nurses – will also be available to help professional colleagues working with patients in the community.

Gerardine Hope, Service Manager for the North East Ambulance Service, said: “We have a fantastic record of success and continue to deliver a safe, effective, caring and compassionate service – evidenced by the low number of serious incidents and high number of positive comments from our patients.

“None of this would be possible without our outstanding team who want to do the best for the patients of the North East. We are incredibly proud to have been awarded this contract and to know that the people of the North East can continue to rely on us for at least the next five years.”

Last year NEAS handled 858,224 calls to NHS 111, including 95,142 in December alone. NEAS currently handles an average of 64,000 calls every month, and is leading the way nationally in providing directly bookable appointments with local GPs.

Referrals to ambulances from NHS 111 decreased throughout 2017 to around 9%, and referrals to emergency departments to around 2.5%.

Yvonne Ormston, Chief Executive of the North East Ambulance Service, said: “Our service is perfectly placed at the heart of the region’s urgent and emergency care network and our clinical assessment service already supports the region’s patients, ensuring patients can access quickly the healthcare service that best meets their needs.

“The commitment and dedication of the team who deliver the service – from management to call handlers and everyone in between – and the developments they have brought in have made the service the success it is. This new service builds upon the work they have already started and we look forward to further developing the service with support from colleagues across the region.”


What To Do If You’re Unwell Over Easter

If you are not feeling well over Easter, please take some time to think about where you should go for help.

Many common ailments, such as colds and flu or stomach upsets can be treated without going to GPs or local hospitals. Pharmacists often provide the appropriate help or advice you need so you can enjoy your Easter break with your family.

There are a number of steps you can take to use services wisely during the Easter holidays.

 

Help yourself

Take control of your health and make sure you have a fully stocked medicine cabinet to help you deal with any unexpected illness.

 

Stock up

Make sure you have the essentials in your first aid kit.

If you care for children, the child health app is free to download and offers a wealth of advice and support.

 

Choose the right service

Use the NHS Choices website for health advice and information about where to go to get the right treatment.

 

Pharmacies

The list of which pharmacies are open over the Easter break can be found here

South Tees

HAST

North Durham

DDES

Darlington

Search nhs.uk/staywellpharmacy for more information and to help you find your nearest NHS pharmacy and opening hours.

Using your pharmacy takes pressure of A & E and frees up staff for real emergencies.

If you know you need a prescription over the Easter period – don’t forget to ask for one before your GP surgery closes on Good Friday.

 

GP Appointments

If you need a GP appointment over Easter call NHS 111 to arrange a local GP appointment or to be directed to the most appropriate service.

 

Minor Injury

A minor injury is a sprain, strain, wound infection, minor head or eye injury or insect or animal bite.

Please dial NHS 111 to speak to highly trained advisors, supported by healthcare professionals, who will assess your symptoms and direct you to the best care.

 

Accident and Emergency

In a life-threatening emergency visit A&E or call 999.

If you have an urgent health need, but are not sure if you need A&E, call NHS 111.

 

The way you use your NHS matters – using it wisely means we can develop and invest in local services to make your NHS fit for the future.

 


Protect your children from poisons: Warning as campaign reminds parents to take smoking right outside

Carbon monoxide, lead, arsenic and benzene are poisons that most of us go out of our way to avoid. But this is the toxic cocktail in tobacco smoke inhaled by smokers and potentially their families in the home and car.

That’s the warning from Fresh as the “Secondhand Smoke Is Poison” campaign re-launches this week. The campaign encourages smokers to quit or take it outside, ensuring children and grandchildren are not regularly exposed to smoke in indoor spaces.

Figures from the British Thoracic Society in 2016 suggest that one in three children who ends up in hospital with an asthma attack has been exposed to cigarette smoke. Other figures from the Royal College of Physicians show secondhand smoke may be resulting in up to 4,900 middle ear infections among children each year in our region.

Evidence also shows that adults exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

A new survey also shows that 11% of adults living in the North East say they are exposed to other people’s smoke in their own home by someone who lives there.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “No-one wants to put their family at risk. However secondhand smoke is a serious risk to health, spreading around the house and lingering, long after you can see it or smell it. Smoking with the back door or window open does little to protect the family – quitting or taking it completely outside is the only way.

“Secondhand smoke results in numerous health problems in infants and children that require hospital and GP attention. However, people often forget that smoke can cause serious health problems among older children and adults are affected as well and they need protecting too.”

Dr Malcolm Brodlie, consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine at the Great North Children’s Hospital and MRC clinician scientist and clinical senior lecturer at the Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, said: “Breathing in secondhand smoke is harmful to people from all age groups, but children are especially vulnerable as their lungs are still developing and they breathe faster than adults, so inhale more of the harmful poisons. There is no safe level of exposure.

“We see the effects of this on hospital wards too often. Children and babies who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop coughs, wheeze, asthma and infections like pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Children exposed to smoke are also more likely to develop middle ear  infections which can be painful and require medical attention.”

In 2010 the Royal College of Physicians revealed that passive smoking resulted in 300,000 GP appointments and 10,000 hospital visits for children a year. Figures adjusted for the North East suggested it causes:

  • 800 chest infections among under twos
  • 4,900 middle ear infections for 0-16yr-olds
  • 900 new cases of wheeze & asthma for 0-16yr-olds
  • 24 cases of bacterial meningitis
  • 12,600 children needing to visit the GP
  • 400 children needing to go to hospital

In contrast to the known harm from secondhand smoke, there is no evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour. The many harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke are either not contained in e-cigarette vapour at all, or are usually found at much lower levels. The risks to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour are likely to be extremely low.


Mental Health Professional Creates Positive 999 Impact

Since October 2017, a mental health professional has been present in police control rooms to assist dealing with individuals who persistently call 999. The results have been encouraging.

Working with other organisations to help individuals, the first three months of data shows that police use of section 136 of the Mental Health Act has fallen by 20 per cent. Section 136 allows police officers to remove an individual from a public place when they think an individual may be suffering from a mental illness and need care. An individual is NOT under arrest if they are detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

Along with a reduction in section 136 detentions, we have seen admission to acute mental health wards for those being detained under section 136 increased by nearly 48 per cent, demonstrating that those individuals that are detained are unwell enough to need inpatient care.

You can read a case study below showing the effectiveness of having a mental health professional in the control room…

 A cause for concern job came through to the Force Control nurse asking for more information about a gentleman who had voiced thoughts to end his own life. The gentleman was well known to a local Police Support Officer (PCSO) who had assumed that he had a learning disability, however he was not known to mental health services. Advice was given by the mental health professional that Street Triage were available to conduct an assessment once the gentleman was located.

The gentleman was eventually located and the attending officer contacted Street Triage. The gentleman was living in squalor and freezing conditions and had advised the officer that he intended to overdose on his heart medication because he was so cold.

Street Triage suggested he was brought to the Crisis Assessment Suite (CAS) as it was warm and they could carry out a full assessment of his mental state and needs. He hadn’t eaten; he had no food in the house, no heating, no hot water, no washing facilities and no cooking facilities.

Street Triage staff gave him hot drinks, food and a blanket. After they spent time with him and told him that there are ways to address these issues, he said that he felt like there was hope.

After spending several hours with the gentleman, he was taken home and a follow up visit was arranged with him. Before the visit, Street Triage and CAS collected food, toiletries, bedding, towels and warm clothing. As it was over the Christmas period, he was also given a list of places that he could go for meals over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

The team also referred the gentleman to The Recovery Advocates & Consultants (TRAC), who agreed that they would assist with his housing, gas supply and benefits and any other social issues or problems with accessing services.

Having the Force Control and Street Triage service involved massively improved the outcome for this gentleman. He gave very positive feedback and said that the team had made his Christmas. The PCSO and officers involved said that they do not know what they would have done without the service.

 


Hospitals Sign Pledge To Go Smokefree!

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has signed a national pledge to go smokefree by March 2019.

The 12-month countdown officially starts this Wednesday – National No Smoking Day – with the launch of a hard-hitting campaign to stop people smoking in the women and children’s entrance way at The James Cook University Hospital.

While the Trust’s hospital sites are already designated as no smoking areas, this latest move will see the public health campaign notched up another step as South Tees commits to:

  • Routinely offer smoking cessation advice to patients in all clinical areas and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to all inpatients
  • Systematically record the smoking status of all patients, with an opt-out approach to referrals for specialist advice and support
  • Provide smoking cessation training for Trust staff
  • Provide improved stop smoking support for Trust staff
  • Ensure NRT is easily accessible via onsite or nearby pharmacies
  • Promote smokefree entrances and exits across all hospital sites

Maternity services are leading the way, working in partnership with local authorities and stop smoking services. Together they have already achieved smoking reduction by using the evidenced-based BabyClear model – offering Nicotine replacement on admission to hospital and rolling out stop smoking support to all clinical areas.

Efforts have now turned to a launching a hard-hitting entrance way campaign. The eye-catching and emotive smokefree branding is impossible to miss. It highlights the dangers of passive smoking and smoking during pregnancy and urges people not to make children and babies breathe in their smoke.

Figures show that the numbers of women smoking at delivery at South Tees reduced to 17.2% in the first half of the 2017/18 financial year, improving 36% since 2011/12 – the biggest drop in the region and double what has been achieved nationally!

“It’s an ambitious drive to pledge to go smokefree but we know it’s possible because it has already been achieved by our colleagues at Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust,” said Midwife Consultant Kay Branch, who leads the Trust’s Smokefree Steering Group.

For more details contact the Communication and Engagement Team – 01642 8543432

“As healthcare providers we have unique opportunities to influence lots of people who come into contact with us every day.

“Stopping smoking at any time has considerable benefits but for people using secondary care services there are additional advantages including shorter hospital stays, reduced prescribing requirements and fewer post-operative complications.”

The smokefree campaign will be rolled out across all Trust services at James Cook, Friarage and community hospitals by 31 March 2019.

Chairman Designate Alan Downey added: “Signing up to the NHS Smokefree Pledge demonstrates our commitment to helping smokers quit and to providing smokefree environments across all our sites.

“Smoking is still the country’s biggest killer and I would like to urge all our staff, patients and visitors to support this bold initiative.”

Need support to stop smoking? Call Quit Well to speak to a trained advisor on 01642 727590.


Tips for Quitting on No Smoking Day

Wednesday 14 March marks No Smoking Day – an annual challenge to smokers to make a quit attempt.

If you smoke, the chances are you’ve tried to quit before. But it’s not all bad news – the most recent evidence suggests smokers in the North East are making more successful quit attempts than elsewhere in the country.

If you’ve tried before, here are some important tips compiled by Fresh to think about to help get you on your way.

    • You’re less likely to succeed if you just go “cold turkey” according to Public Health England. PHE has identified research showing that over 58% of smokers still try to quit without using an aid.
  • Even if you’ve struggled to quit before, try to make at least one quit attempt a year. Whether that’s for No Smoking Day, New Year or Stoptober. The more you try, the greater your chances of being completely quit within a decade.
  • Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy as a quit aid, such as patches and gums, or e-cigarettes makes it one and a half times as likely you’ll succeed. Most health problems are caused by other components in tobacco smoke, not by the nicotine. Research suggests 4/10 smokers incorrectly think nicotine causes cancer.
  • If you’ve struggled to quit with quitting aids previously, then why not try switching completely to an e-cigarette? The latest evidence suggests these are significantly less harmful than smoking and are now the most popular way to quit smoking in the UK. Public Health England recently published an independent evidence review confirming that vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-independent-expert-e-cigarettes-evidence-review. Refillable “tank” system e-cigarettes are regarded as more effective and end up being cheaper than the discardable ones that look like cigarettes.

 

  • Your chances of quitting are doubled if using a stop smoking medicine prescribed by a GP, pharmacist or other health professional. Giving up smoking can cause nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which include cravings, headaches, feeling irritable and not being able to sleep. Stop smoking medicines can help you manage these withdrawal symptoms.
  • Local Stop Smoking Services provides expert advice, support and encouragement to help you stop smoking for good. Combining quit aids with expert support makes it four times as likely you’ll stop smoking successfully.
  • The NHS Smokefree website has lots of free support to help you stop for good. Choose from the smartphone app, email programme or text messages that will help keep you focused. Or call the Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044.
  • Some people do manage to quit first time – but for most it takes more than one attempt. Don’t get disheartened if you didn’t quit first time, and don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. You can come back more determined and better prepared next time.
  • Get support from family and friends – their support can go a long way. If your partner smokes, why not quit together?
  • The best chance of success is by stopping abruptly rather than by trying to cut down gradually, according to research by Prof Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies, University College London, who has spent over 30 years researching the most effective quitting methods. Many smokers try to cut down first, but when you try to stop gradually, the risk is that each remaining cigarette becomes more important and it creates a stronger link with the situation you smoke it in. Stopping completely it creates a clear break.

Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at PHE advises: “Nicotine is addictive but it’s the many thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke that are responsible for almost all of the harm caused by smoking. Using nicotine quit aids helps manage cravings and can be one of the solutions to helping you stop for good. Going ‘cold turkey’ is not recommended as it’s the least successful way.

“To get the most benefit, make sure you use as much nicotine replacement as you need, and for as long as you need, as this will help you stop smoking and stay smokefree. Combining quit aids with support from a stop smoking service gives the best success rates. With the wide range of aids now available, there’s never been a better time to stop.”


Public urged to think twice before attending A&E as the thaw puts pressure on NHS services

Following the severe weather, people across the North East are being urged to stay away from A&E unless they are seriously unwell or in need of critical or life-saving care. Members of the public are being reminded to think before dialling 999 and only call if they have a life threatening emergency.

 

The plea – from all NHS providers in the region – comes as attendances at A&E have soared since the snow has melted with extremely high numbers of very sick patients requiring treatment.

 

As teams prioritise patients with most immediate needs, people attending with minor illnesses and injuries have been facing a long wait. This influx in patients has meant NHS services are very busy with pressures in many areas. In some cases this has also meant that there has meant some delays in paramedics handing over sick patients as A & E departments cope with increased numbers of walk in patients. 

 

NHS providers are reminding people who are not seriously ill to seek alternatives wherever possible.  Advice and signposting to community services is available for free through NHS 111.

 

Andy Beeby medical director at QE Gateshead said: “Like many NHS hospitals up and down the country, we are continuing to face pressures on our services over the winter period and we are working hard to manage the demands we are currently facing.

 

Our A&E department is currently very busy and we would urge people to think carefully about the best place for their care if it isn’t a genuine emergency. We ask people to please use emergency services responsibly and think about alternatives to hospital for more minor issues, utilising the NHS 111 service and accessing healthcare advice from local GPs and pharmacists.

 

If you care for children, the child health app is free to download and offers a wealth of advice and support.

 

On behalf of the region’s NHS providers, Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Since the temperature started to rise and the snow has melted, across the region our emergency departments have been inundated with patients.

 

“When the weather improves following a spell of severe conditions, in the NHS we do expect the number of attendances to rise however given that the weather was so extreme, this pattern this week has been even more marked. 

 

“This intense pressure is being felt right across the region and we are appealing to the public for their help. Please only come to A&E if you are seriously unwell or in need of critical or life-saving treatment to enable our teams to concentrate on caring for those who need our help most.

 

“There is plenty of help readily available for those who are not in immediate need. Your local pharmacist has a wealth of knowledge and NHS 111 is always a good port of call for urgent medical advice and they will direct you to the most appropriate place for your condition.

 

“It’s also worth remembering that waiting times are considerably shorter at urgent care and walk-in centres with patients being seen much sooner for non-life threatening conditions than if they went to an emergency department.”

 


Urgent weekend advice for patients, staff and the public from region’s NHS

With the extreme weather across the North East and North Cumbria forecast to carry on this weekend, the region’s NHS has urgent guidance for patients, staff and the public.

  • First of all we must thank all NHS staff for the hard work and dedication. They have continued to work tirelessly to keep things running as smoothly as possible.
  • Urgent and emergency care services across the region are continuing to run but often with a skeleton staff. Please only attend if absolutely necessary as services will continue to be extremely busy at the weekend.
  • Different parts of the region are affected varyingly but the adverse weather is affecting the ability of some NHS staff to travel to their place of work.  Accordingly, there has been disruption to some non-urgent hospital outpatient appointments and non-urgent operations / procedures – affected hospitals are making every effort to contact those patients as soon as possible and apologise for any inconvenience caused.  Any patient who is unsure whether their appointment is going ahead should call the hospital to check.
  • If patients are unable to attend their planned hospital appointments due to the severe weather, they are also being asked to call ahead using the number provided on your original appointment letter to let the hospital know.
  • Community healthcare teams may struggle to reach people at home and patients may experience delays in visits from their healthcare professional – please check on your relatives and neighbours to see that they are safe, warm and well and have enough food and medication.
  • Advice and signposting to community services is available for free through NHS 111.
  • Please remember to use 999 services wisely.
  • Please ensure you keep warm, both indoors and out, and heat your home to at least 18C. Relatives and friends are asked to check that their elderly and vulnerable family members, neighbours and friends have the medicines they need and if not, support them in getting what they need.  The NHS is working very hard to maintain services. This includes working with emergency services to ensure medicines reach people.
  • The majority of pharmacies are open, however some pharmacies in the worst affected areas have had to close or are opening for shorter periods than usual. The NHS is urging people to stock up their medicine cabinets and to make sure they have enough prescription medicine going into the weekend and beyond. If you need any medication, please call 111 and they will direct you to your nearest open pharmacy
  • Please keep children safe and warm. The ‘NHS Child Health’ app is free to download and offers advice and support if your child is poorly.
  • Most dental practices across the region are open. Patients are advised to call their practice before setting off to check it is operating as usual.

 

NHS England’s Medical Director for Cumbria and the North East, Professor Chris Gray, said: “We want to reassure people the NHS in our region is coping, but please use services responsibly and only go to an A&E department for emergencies or life threatening conditions.

 

“Urgent care centres are open as usual, as are GP practices, many of which offer appointments in the evening or over the weekend. Please ring ahead to make an appointment if you don’t have one. You can also arrange an appointment by calling NHS 111.

 

“The NHS Choices website is an excellent site to get health advice and information about where to go to get the right treatment. And if you need medical help and advice fast, but it’s not life-threatening or an emergency, call NHS 111 at any time.

“I want to thank our NHS colleagues in the North East and North Cumbria for their heroic and determined efforts to make sure patients have received and continue to receive the care they need. Staff are staying overnight at hospitals, getting lifts to work from family and colleagues with four-wheel drive vehicles and are even walking long distances to get to their place of work. Everyone appreciates their dedication and efforts in such difficult circumstances.”

 

Dr Stewart Findlay, a GP and chair of the North East and North Cumbria urgent and emergency care network said, “Thank you to NHS staff for all of your hard work over the last few days. Without you all, we wouldn’t have been able to keep services running the way we have done.

“I would urge everyone to think about how they can support NHS services by keeping yourself warm, looking after yourself and only seeking medical help when it’s an emergency.”

 

Cold weather can be very harmful to health and around 25,000 more people die over the course of each winter compared with other times of the year.

If you care for children, the child health app is free to download and offers a wealth of advice and support.


View from our work experience student

I am currently in my first year at Nunthorpe Sixth Form with the hope of studying medicine at university to become a doctor. I was fortunate enough to spend a week’s work experience at both a local GP surgery and the CCG offices.

 

Whilst at the surgery, I was able to gain an insight into some of the many roles that doctors perform on a day to day basis, including house visits. This allowed me to see just how important a surgery is to the local community and I hope to be a part of this future. Later in the week, I was able to work in the CCG and discover the roles they have in supporting the health services in the South Tees area. Whilst there I attended a Patient and Public Advisory Group (PPAG) meeting which I found very interesting as I could hear the public’s view on various topics of discussion.

 

I had a wonderful time on my work experience week and gained a wider perspective on the services provided for the local area. It has confirmed for me that medicine is the career that I wish to pursue and hopefully one day I will become a doctor return to the Tees Valley area.