Monthly Archives: March 2015

Helping the NHS to help you this Easter

Everyone has a part to play in helping the NHS do its job – that’s the message from local doctors and nurses as we approach the Easter holiday season.


Urgent and emergency care services have faced real pressures due to slips, trips and viruses over the winter, and Easter often brings a further spike in demands on the NHS.


Dr Janet Walker, Chair of NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Holiday periods can be another busy time for the NHS, but everyone in the South Tees area can help by thinking about which NHS service is best placed to help them.


“We would always encourage patients to come to Accident & Emergency if they need urgent medical attention, but it’s important to keep A&E for real emergencies and only use an ambulance when it’s really necessary.”


“Your GP should be the first port of call for health issues, but if you’re not sure who to contact, it’s best to call the free NHS 111 service for help in finding the right service for your needs.


“A lot of common problems can be treated at home with advice from your local pharmacist. With over 700 pharmacies in the North East and no need to make an appointment, it’s far simpler to ask a pharmacist about minor things like coughs, headaches and vomiting bugs.”


Details of local GPs, walk-in centres and Easter opening hours for all pharmacies are available at

Ovarian cancer awareness month

March is ovarian cancer awareness month. Ovarian cancer is one of those cancers that has vague symptoms, early detection is often difficult as symptoms are often similar to those less serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

However, three main symptoms are more frequent in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, these are increased abdominal size and persistent bloating, persistent pelvic and abdominal pain, difficulty eating and feeling full quickly or feeling nauseous.

We don’t have a national screening programme at the moment because there is no screening test reliable enough to pick up ovarian cancer at an early stage. Research is ongoing into how we can get better at diagnosing this sooner. Some families are more at risk of ovarian cancer because it can be linked to a specific abnormal gene. If other members of your family have suffered from ovarian or breast cancer, the OPERA tool can be used to see if you’re also at high risk  Also if needed, your GP is able to refer you to our local Teesside cancer genetics service for screening if you fall into the higher risk group.

We know that most ovarian cancer occurs after the menopause but I would urge all of us ‘girls’ to think about what you can do now to reduce your risk. Ovarian cancer is more likely if you are overweight. So all of us girls should keep our weight down by regularly exercising and eating a healthy balanced diet. We also know that this reduces all forms of cancer as well as heart disease so we might as well do it with all the family at the same time.

I suspect most of you don’t know that breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer? Across Middlesbrough and Redcar we’re just not good at starting or continuing breastfeeding. To be honest though compared to the rest of the country we’re not good at doing all sorts of things that would be better for our health across South Tees.

This year with your GP surgery we are focusing on increasing the numbers of people that take part in cancer screening programmes that detect cancers at early stages. None of us want to be told we have cancer but with more of us living longer at least 1/3 of us will be at some point in our lives so it is better to ‘find out’ as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of recovery. If you get an invite for a smear, breast screening or bowel screening, don’t ignore it.

What action could you take that changes your health for the better? Now this message is not just for us girls as there are things that you chaps can do too.  It was National No Smoking Day on Wednesday 11 March so why not have a stab at giving up those cigarettes for good! And reduce your risk of cancer.

CCG sponsors Riverside 2k Fun Run

THE popular Riverside 2k Fun Run has been launched for 2015, sponsored by NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group.


The event takes place alongside the Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run on Sunday, May 31.


The STCCG 2k Fun Run is a great opportunity for parents to walk, toddle or run together over a shorter distance, and gives those new to running a first challenge to aim for.


Both events have been growing in popularity in recent years and have become high-profile fund-raising opportunities for a range of charities and good causes.


Speaking at this year’s Fun Run launch at the Riverside Stadium, STCCG Chief Officer Amanda Hume said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the 2k Fun Run again this year.


“It was a fantastic event last year and a few of us from the CCG took part.


“I only began running in my 40s, a couple of years ago starting with the ‘couch to 5k’ programme on my phone, ending up doing the Great North Run.


“It was a great sense of achievement and made me feel so much better physically and mentally.”


“It was a really easy way to do it. Literally go from nothing to actually finding that you can run 2k without stopping, which took me two months.”


NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for buying and planning most of the health services on behalf of local people from across the South Tees area.


These services include planned and emergency hospital care, rehabilitation, most community services and mental health and learning disability services


Last year’s STCCG 2k Fun Run winner was 13-year-old Joshua Cowperthwaite, who was also the 2014 English National U13 Boys Cross Champion.


This winter, racing in the Under 15 age group, the Middlesbrough Mandale athlete finished ninth in the English National Cross Country and tenth in the Inter County Cross Country Championships.


And after last year’s 2k success, Joshua is hoping to compete in the Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run which is now in its fifth year.


Councillor Tracy Harvey, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “The 2k Fun Run is a great introduction to the Runmiddlesbrough series and is ideal for young and old, runners and non-runners like.


“The 5k and 10k have really put Middlesbrough on the map, and those taking part can look forward to a truly great day out.”


The Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run will have an entry limit of 2,000 runners and entries to the event will close on Wednesday, May 20 or when the 2,000 runner limit is reached, whichever is sooner.


  • Application forms to take part will be available at venues across the town and entries can also be submitted online.


For further information and training plans on Runmiddlesbrough events visit

Mental Health Strategy – Share your views

We are responsible for commissioning mental health services to meet the mental health needs of the population of South Tees. To help us decide how and what we should commission we have developed a draft 5 year mental health strategy.

We would like to hear your opinions and so we are inviting you to view the draft strategy by clicking here. You will also be able to complete a short questionnaire, by clicking here, so you can tell us what you think and between us we can agree on what we need to commission to improve our community’s mental health.


Please note that the survey will be closed as of Wednesday 10th June 2015.