Monthly Archives: August 2016

Be prepared for the Bank Holiday

As the August Bank Holiday weekend is upon us, I can’t miss the opportunity to re-emphasise those health messages that may be more relevant over the next few days. If the weather is great, don’t forget the sunscreen and sunblock.  If the barbecue comes out, please make sure that the meat is cooked all the way through to avoid any nasty gastroenteritis, and if you are enjoying a drink please do so responsibly, don’t drink and drive.  One message that our executive nurse was keen for me to stress was don’t share a bed with your baby or child if you have been drinking, as a tragedy of a smothered child is not the way to end a holiday weekend.

If you are able get out and about enjoy the fresh air and something off what Teesside  has to offer.

If you are unlucky enough to need medical advice when your surgery is closed – ask your community pharmacist or ring  NHS 111. Calls to 111 are free from mobiles or landlines and provides help and advice  24hours a day. If you need to see a health professional the 111 service will be able to give you an appointment at the local STAR service that will be operating in Redcar and  Middlesbrough  from 8am -9.30pm over the weekend and on Monday if you need.

Are you prepared for the Bank Holiday weekend?

During the Bank Holiday weekend many healthcare services in our area will be closed for three days. This means that if you take regular medication then you need to make sure that you have enough supplies to last you over the Bank Holiday, so you don’t run out.

It may be best to stock up on everything that you may need over the Bank Holiday weekend, from paracetamol to indigestion remedies as well as making sure you have picked up any repeat prescriptions from your pharmacy.

So where should you go to get help when your GP practice is closed?


Common health problems such as diarrhoea, runny noses and headaches can often be solved with a visit to your local pharmacy. From coughs and colds to sprains and stomach upsets pharmacists are qualified to provide expert advice and medicines without an appointment.  Did you know 98% of the population lives within a 20 minute walk of a Pharmacy?

See which pharmacies are open near you this Bank Holiday weekend.

NHS 111 and the STAR scheme

If you have an illness that is important, but not an emergency you can call NHS 111 for free. It’s staffed by a team of fully trained call advisers supported by nurses, paramedics and doctors. They can assess your needs and guide you to locally available services.   NHS 111 can also offer appointments with the STAR scheme (South Tees Access & Response), offering extended access to advice and treatment from our GPs and nurse practitioners from GP hubs in Linthorpe and Redcar.

Walk in Centres

In South Tees, we have two Walk in Centres – Resolution Health Centre, based in North Ormesby Health Village and Eston Grange.  They’re both open 7 days a week, from 8am-8pm.

Minor Injuries Unit, Redcar Primary Care Hospital

If you have a minor accident or injury and are “walking injured” – then the Minor Injuries Unit  (MIU) at Redcar Primary Care Hospital will be the place to go.  The MIU is open 24/7.

James Cook Accident and Emergency (A&E)

Accident and Emergency is for serious or life threatening problems ONLY.  In an emergency, you should dial 999.


Rio inspiration

I am now back from leave and thank my GP colleagues for  the guest blogs they have  provided whilst I have been away.

It has been great to be able to spend more time with my family, and enjoy getting into the great outdoors and have been lucky enough to see some fantastic birds and wildlife  despite the sometimes wet and windy Scottish weather.

The holiday was certainly topped  off by being able to watch team GB at the Olympics in Rio in the evenings. I hope and believe that many youngsters will be inspired  by what they have seen and can continue Great Britain’s future sporting achievements.

The CCG have been having their own version of the Olympics as part of the programme to promote health and  wellbeing for all staff. The events have been different, and I am not sure there will have been many youngsters inspired by what they have seen , but the team spirit is  just as strong as it looks to be on the telly! I hope you may have also managed to catch some of the excitement from Rio. If so, what have you been inspired by? What could you have a go at or take the kids along to try out?

Vitamin D and the sun

Guest blog by Dr Raj Khapra

Summer is the time for soaking some heat and sunlight for rest of the year. Our skin makes vitamin D on exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D is an important vitamin for health of muscle and bone for all and growth in children.

Majority of our vitamin D requirement is provided by sunlight during summer months and 20% is derived from food.

Scientific Advisory committee on Nutrition (SCAN) suggests everyone over the age of 1 year should have 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily.

Do make use of remaining summer and sunlight to get required vitamin D

While protection against skin cancer is important the health of muscle and bone is equally important to have healthy life.

Too much of anything is bad for health, be it carbs, fat, protein or even sunlight.

Off on holiday?

Guest blog by Dr Nigel Rowell

Going on holiday abroad? Somewhere nice I hope? I am sure you will have worked hard for it and it will be well deserved….

But make sure you have an EHIC card AND travel insurance.

The EHIC card entitles you to the equivalent of NHS care in 27 different European countries. Some countries won’t offer the same free medical care that we get in the UK, but it will basically give you the same right to free or subsidised medical treatment that citizens in that country get. It won’t cover costs like an emergency flight home.

Even with this card you may still have to pay for prescriptions, calling an ambulance, a GP appointment or other medical treatment. If you have travel insurance you should be able to reclaim such costs.

When I needed hospital treatment in Norway I paid £25 to see a doctor and £25 to have an X ray of my leg. I got off lightly as I had insurance and an EHIC card and surgery was free.

We are lucky in this country and don’t always appreciate it. In the USA if you have an accident the first question the ambulance will ask is where does it hurt, the second, how are you paying?

Having to spend your holiday money on medical attention isn’t what you have worked all year for.

Get an EHIC card (at AND travel Insurance. My daughter bought the latter on line whilst queuing to board Ryanair!

And finally, enjoy your holiday!

Moving towards a sustainable NHS- Better Health Programme

You may remember from our urgent care making health simple consultation that with our proposed changes we were not making any financial savings but rather making sure we used our money wisely and most effectively. I have just been to an NHS England (NHSE) meeting where there was a big gathering of NHS clinical leads and managerial leads from across the north and I have been learning more about what the north needs to do together to help balance the NHS ‘books’.

As a Yorkshire girl I am used to being thrifty but this is not as simple as changing to a cheaper brand of baked beans, this is making big courageous changes that get us the quality health care that we would all want for our families as well as making the NHS sustainable to be able to carry on.

Money does not grow on trees and  for us to strive towards a better service that allows us to improve the health of the population of South Tees and indeed play our part in the ‘north’ things have to change. Change can be difficult and often misunderstood, but I think we need to be honest that health care ‘free at the point of delivery’ has to be affordable  (as much money as tax payers across the country are  willing to  spend). I think this is where the impact of having doctors and nurses involved with planning new health care services, with changes being made to build a better more resilient health care service can be seen. The better health programme – follow the link here talks locally about what we are planning to do to make those changes.

Activity update. Well I am smashing my targets as I had a lovely long walk with my family. The woodland walk was fantastic, birds, deer and no rain!  Taking the longer trail ‘by accident’ helped get the distance up and with the beautiful views and wildlife just doing its own thing the family did not seem to notice?!