Monthly Archives: September 2019

National Eye Health Week!

Don’t be blind to the risk of falls.

This week is National Eye Health Week (Monday 23 to Sunday 29 September)

Poor vision more than doubles your risk of taking a tumble.

Not only can impaired or low vision prevent you spotting hazards it can also affect your balance – just close your eyes for a moment or two and you’ll begin to feel yourself sway; in fact, sway increases 50 per cent or more with eyes closed compared with eyes open.

Our vision steadily declines as we age so it’s no surprise that poor vision is a major contributory factor to falls in the over-60s. Around one in three adults over 65 who live at home have at least one fall a year, and about half of these will experience falls more frequently.

Falls can be distressing and impact on your quality of life. In extreme cases fall related injuries can even lead to death. More than five thousand people in the UK died as a result of a fall in 2017.

Three quarters of older people who suffer a fall as a result of poor vision had a visual impairment that was easily correctable.  This could be a simple as getting a new prescription for your glasses or having cataract surgery.

Regular sight tests are important for everyone to keep your eyes and vision healthy. Sight tests are free for the over 60s as they are paid for by the NHS. If you require prescription eye wear talk to your dispensing optician about appropriate uses for your glasses. If you have more than one pair, it can sometimes be confusing deciding which pair to wear for which task. A simple coding system such as putting a red dot on your reading glasses – red for reading – could help prevent vision impairment because you’re wearing the wrong glasses.

Falls prevention week!

Falls: Preventable, not inevitable!

This week is Falls Prevention Week (Monday 23 to Sunday 29 September).

Falls can have a devastating effect on the lives of individuals and their families. Physical injury can cause permanent disability and people’s lives change as they lose their confidence and independence.

The main aim of Falls Prevention Week is to give advice on how to prevent falls and encourage people to report their falls to a GP so they can explore the reason why this has happened. It might not just be due to tripping over something, there could be an underlying health issue.

Falls represent the most frequent and serious type of accident in people aged 65 and over.

The NHS Long Term Plan highlights how falls prevention schemes, including exercise classes and strength and balance training, can significantly reduce the likelihood of falls and are cost effective in reducing admissions to hospital.

Please use the week to raise awareness and highlight the importance of staying active – for example linking to local wellbeing and exercise classes.

Funding for mental health crisis services

New funding for mental health crisis services

Patients across Tees Valley and County Durham will have better access to adult mental health crisis services thanks to new funding worth more than £2 million.

County Durham and Darlington and Teesside Mental Health Crisis Concordats have been successful in securing Community Crisis Care Transformation Funding.

This funding, via NHS England Networks, supports adult mental health crisis services.

The Mental Health Crisis Concordats are made up from a cross section of services including Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), Police, Fire, Local authority, Voluntary Sector and patient representatives.

Steven Bramwell, Commissioning and Development Lead for North Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “The development within these areas will see an improvement in a variety of areas across Teesside and Durham including telephone intervention and places of safety offering alternatives to medical crisis services.

“The success in securing Community Crisis Care Transformation funding will mean further development of County Teesside and Durham adult mental health services, in line with the NHS 10 year plan and our local plans.”

In Teesside, dedicated psychology resources within crisis services will be implemented to ensure care is delivered in a trauma informed way. There will also be a telephone intervention service which will provide mental health advice, listening and care.

In County Durham and Darlington the funding will support alternatives to current crisis provision such as pre-crisis telephone support , additional support for older people and supporting crisis-cafés across County Durham and Darlington. There will also be a focus on trauma informed care work to ensure the understanding of trauma is a key part of crisis work.

This money is funded until 2021 at which point it continue to be funded via CCGs and mental health partnerships.



Training to Improve Oral Health for Patients


Training to Improve Oral Health for Patients


A new online learning course has launched to help GPs improve oral health treatment for patients.

There is growing evidence to show that poor oral health plays a significant role in systemic disease, for example diabetes and heart disease.

North of England Commissioning Support Unit and Health Education England have worked together to produce the free online course aimed at all primary and secondary care staff.

The course gives an overview of the importance of good oral healthcare and its implications on general health.

Good oral health can also make a significant contribution to reducing the number of emergency and hospital appointments, impacting on valuable health worker time and NHS resources.

The training includes potentially describing medicines that can have a detrimental impact on oral health and how this can be managed.


There is also additional face to face training free of charge.


For more information on the oral healthcare training, visit here.



Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Day


Tuesday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day.  This aims to raise awareness and educate people on what we can all do to help prevent suicide.

Did you know one in four people experience mental health problems in any one year? Often, it’s easier to recognise someone’s physical well being than their emotional well being, and generally people find it easier to have conversations about physical health. But we shouldn’t shy away from talking to people about their mental health, and it could even save a life.

In 2018 there were 6,507 suicides registered in the UK, a significant increase from the previous year. Three quarters of these deaths were men, and the North East had the highest suicide rate among men, with both the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber having a statistically higher suicide rate for males compared to the overall rate for males in England. The suicide rate among young women under the age of 24 has increased to its highest recorded level since 1981.

Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected.  This amounts to 108 million people per year worldwide who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviour. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide.

This is a commitment to reduce suicides by 10% nationally by 2020/21. Everyone can play a part in achieving this by breaking the taboo of talking about suicide with friends, colleagues and loved ones.

There are so many great support services available to help people deal with mental health problems, when they are feeling down, depressed or anxious. The Zero Suicide Alliance also offers free online suicide prevention training for the general public which takes only 20 minutes to complete and could help you save a life.


Help and advice


If you are experiencing suicidal feelings, please talk to someone. Make sure you talk about it and if you recognise signs in other people, encourage them to seek help from their GP or they can call the Samaritans on 116 123. 

Patients encouraged to share views on changes to repeat prescriptions

Patients are being encouraged to share their views on upcoming changes to repeat prescribing in County Durham and Tees Valley.

From September 2 2019, community pharmacies will no longer be able to order repeat medication for patients. Instead patients will order their medication directly from their GP practice.

Patients will still receive the medication that they need, but the way they order it will change. Ahead of the forthcoming changes to repeat prescribing in the area, patients are invited to fill in a short survey to give their feedback on the changes.

Patients can fill in the survey by visiting

Dr Janet Walker, Medical Director for NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said, “The changes to repeat prescribing will allow patients to take more control of their medicines and own health, which will increase patient safety, reduce waste and significantly reduce costs.

“We want to ensure patients are fully aware of the upcoming changes and the survey is a great opportunity to share any views you may have on these changes.

“If you or someone you care for uses the same medicines regularly, you may be able to benefit from electronic repeat dispensing. This means you won’t have to re-order or collect your repeat prescriptions from your GP practice every time you need more medicine.”

Patients can order their medication online from their GP practice via GP online services – go to or speak to your GP practice to sign up to GP online or electronic repeat dispensing. For online services, you can also use the new NHS app without needing to go into the practice

Dr Janet Walker added, “There will be a small number of patients, for example, the house bound or vulnerable, for whom the changes may not be suitable. GP practices will identify these patients and arrangements will be put in place for their local pharmacy to continue to support them with ordering repeat medication.”

If you are concerned about someone you know not coping with this change, please speak to your GP practice, or for more information, email

The changes to repeat prescribing are being made by NHS South Tees CCG, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG, Darlington CCG, North Durham CCG and Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG.