Be prepared and help ease pressure on health services this Easter

People living in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Swindon and Wiltshire are being urged to get ready for the approaching Easter holidays in order to help ease demand on health services across the region.

As GP surgeries prepare for the Easter break, health and care leaders are asking people to check they have the essential medication they need to see them through the holiday period and make sure they know where to go for healthcare advice and treatment.

They are also being advised that for non-urgent minor conditions, pharmacists are equipped to give advice on over the counter medications and treatments.

Bank holidays can be extremely busy for the NHS and local people are being asked to use services wisely so that accident and emergency departments and ambulance services are available for those who need them most.

Most GP surgeries across the region will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday on 19 and 22 April, although pre-booked appointments are available at some surgeries and walk in centres and some urgent treatment centres will also be open.

Dr Ian Orpen, a GP based in Bath and Chair of BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire’s Clinical Board, said:

“Everybody wants to enjoy the Easter holidays, so it’s a good idea to do as much as possible to prepare for them in advance – particularly when it comes to staying well. We don’t want people to run out of their medication, become poorly and miss out on an enjoyable break, so do make sure you have enough repeat medicine to last over the long weekend.”

“If you are unlucky enough to be ill over the Easter holiday, remember you can phone 111. NHS 111 is the Freephone number to call should you need urgent medical advice when your GP surgery is closed. You’ll speak with a trained advisor who will help you. You can also access NHS 111 online, 24 hours a day.”

Other things people across B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire can do to stay healthy and prepare for the Easter break include:

  • Make sure your medicine cabinet is well-stocked and includes essentials such as sticking plasters, paracetamol, anti-diarrhoea medicine and indigestion remedy. Having these items to hand could save you time and the stress of a mad dash to your local pharmacy or shop.

  • Remember that, for non-urgent, minor conditions, pharmacists are equipped to give advice on over the counter medications and treatments. A list of pharmacists open this Easter can be found on our website or on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website at

  • Parents can access expert advice about common childhood illnesses and how to treat them via HANDi App – a mobile app which is free and can be downloaded to any Apple or Android smartphone or tablet.


Wiltshire Pharmacy Opening Times for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend

Opening times for your local pharmacy services for the upcoming Easter bank holiday weekend (19 – 22 April) are available below.
The pharmacies listed should be open on the dates as shown, the details are correct at the time published but are subject to change. You are advised to contact the pharmacy before attending to ensure they are open and have the medication you require.
View the downloadable PDF

New Child Exploitation and Missing Children Strategy

Wiltshire’s Community Safety Partnership have recently launched a new Child Exploitation and Missing Children Strategy for 2019 – 2021.

This strategy sets out how agencies will work together to keep children and young people in Wiltshire safe from exploitation and harm. It also provides recent data and information about the current level of threat in Wiltshire, as well as those children and young people most at risk. It will inform all our work for the coming years, so we want to make sure as many people know about it as possible.

The Wiltshire Times recently covered the launch of the strategy – read the article here.

Abbott FreeStyle Libre ® Flash Glucose Monitoring System: April 2019 update

On 7th March 2019 NHS England announced the national arrangements for funding and criteria for the use of Freestyle Libre® Flash Glucose Monitoring. This can be found on the NHS England website following the link below:

NHS BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs continue to work with local hospital diabetes teams to support the introduction of FreeStyle Libre® from 1 April 2019 in line with the new NHSE arrangements.


Please see the following information about how to access FreeStyle Libre® locally on the NHS:

1. People with type 1 diabetes who are currently receiving FreeStyle Libre® from their hospital specialist/ Diabetes Specialist Nurse:

Your specialist will be writing to you and your GP to let the GP know that they can now take over the prescribing of your FreeStyle Libre® sensors. The specialist will advise what you should do with any current hospital-issued prescriptions for FreeStyle Libre® that you may have.

Patients will receive multiples of 1 month prescriptions each for 2 sensors from their GP.

The specialist team will continue to review the treatment aims* every 6-12 months and continued NHS supply of the Freestyle Libre® Glucose Monitoring System is dependent on achievement of the treatment aims agreed.

Community pharmacists have also been alerted to the change in provision of Freestyle Libre® sensors locally in order to reduce any problems with getting hold of them.

2. People with diabetes that are interested in starting to use the FreeStyle Libre® system:

Freestyle Libre® cannot be initiated by your GP. You should discuss your eligibility for FreeStyle Libre® at your next routine appointment with your specialist. Your specialist will assess your eligibility and circumstances and will advise whether you are eligible and if so, will ensure that you receive the NHS approved training about the use of FreeStyle Libre.® The training will maximise the benefits out of using the system. The specialist team will jointly agree aims* for you in terms of using FreeStyle Libre® to manage your diabetes. These aims will be reviewed every 6-12 months and continued NHS supply of the Freestyle Libre® Glucose Monitoring System is dependent on achievement of the treatment aims agreed.

3. People with diabetes that are currently self-funding FreeStyle Libre®:

As per the advice above for people who are interested in starting to use FreeStyle Libre®, eligibility can be discussed at your next routine appointment with your specialist who will assess your eligibility and circumstances and if eligible, will ensure that you receive the NHS approved training about the use of FreeStyle Libre.® The training will maximise the benefits out of using the system. The specialist team will jointly agree aims and review them every 6-12 months, as above.

*NOTE: Theses aims do not apply to people who are using Freestyle Libre® due to not having mental (e.g. learning disabilities) or physical capacity (e.g. manual dexterity problems which require a carer to do finger prick testing on their behalf) to undertake blood glucose monitoring.

Information about FreeStyle Libre®

The FreeStyle Libre ® Flash Glucose Monitor has two parts:

1. A sensor that is attached to the surface of your skin that includes a small needle-like attachment that sits just underneath the skin and measures glucose levels.

2. A wireless monitoring device that you pass over the sensor to display your glucose level. Each time you pass the monitoring device over the sensor, glucose level readings for the last eight hours will be transferred to the device. The Flash Glucose Monitoring device also comes with software so you can analyse your results and see patterns in your glucose levels.[1]

Note that the sensors need to be replaced every 14 days.

The sensor does not measure your blood glucose level. Instead, it measures the amount of glucose in the fluid that surrounds your body cells (called “interstitial fluid”).

Glucose levels in the interstitial fluid can lag-behind glucose levels in your blood by up to 5 minutes. This lag time is longest if your blood glucose level is changing rapidly, e.g. after eating or if you are exercising. For this reason, you need to do a blood glucose check (finger prick) if you’re thinking of changing your treatment (e.g. taking more insulin or treating an episode of low blood sugar).[1]

FreeStyle Libre® does not completely remove the need to do finger prick testing. Blood glucose finger prick testing is required in some circumstances e.g. during times of rapidly changing glucose levels when interstitial fluid glucose levels (measured by Freestyle Libre® Glucose Monitoring System) may not accurately reflect blood glucose levels, or if hypoglycemia or impending hypoglycemia is reported by Freestyle Libre® but your symptoms do not match the system readings.

Freestyle Libre® and test strip use for driving

On 14 February 2019 the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) updated their guidelines to make testing requirements simpler for drivers with insulin treated diabetes. This means that drivers may now choose to use finger prick glucose testing and continuous glucose monitoring systems such as FreeStyle Libre® and real-time continuous glucose monitoring for the purposes of driving.

The DVLA guidance states that users of FreeStyle Libre® must also have finger prick glucose monitors and test strips available when driving.

For full self-monitoring requirements, please contact the DVLA directly or visit their website.

For access to further information, resources, support and trouble-shooting

Telephone: 0800 1701177 Abbott Customer Services



[1] Diabetes UK, “Flash Glucose Monitoring,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 22nd March 2019].

Health officials encourage patients to join a free type two diabetes prevention course

People in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire most at risk of developing type two diabetes are being encouraged to accept an invitation to a free course that could help prevent the condition.

Designed to help people eat well and get active, the Healthier You programme supports individuals over a nine-month period to reverse the early symptoms of diabetes.

Around 59,000 adults in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are at risk of developing type two diabetes and are eligible for the Healthier You programme. Around 7,000 people from the area have taken up the invitation, but many are missing out on the opportunity to take part in the course.

Dr Ayoola Oyinloye, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said:
“It is extremely worrying that so many people are choosing to ignore this offer of free help.

“Type two diabetes is largely preventable, and this programme gives people most at risk the power to take back control of their own health and make the changes that could add years to their life and life to their years.

“I’d encourage anybody with an invitation letter just sitting in a drawer or on a table not to ignore it, and to make today the day they take a step towards a healthier lifestyle by picking up the phone and make the call to participate.”

The call to action is being made to coincide with Diabetes Prevention Week, which runs between Monday 1 and Sunday 7 April.

Type two diabetes is a condition that causes the level of sugar in a person’s blood to become too high. If left untreated, it can lead to other significant health problems, some of which can cause a threat to life, such as heart and kidney disease. It can also lead to disabling conditions such as blindness and amputations.

Janet Tooze, 68, took part in the Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme after speaking with her GP about her high blood sugar levels.

Janet said:
“It was a gradual education of what was right and what was wrong, and how to make the correct choices.

“But it was done in such a way that made you really want to do it, and now I’ve lost more than a stone and people keep telling me how great I’m looking.

“I keep telling others about it. I know lots of people who have got the letter and ignored it, but it really isn’t something that should be ignored.”

Each Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme group can provide support for groups of up to 25 people, all of whom are over 18 and not yet diagnosed with diabetes.

People can check for themselves if they fall into the at-risk category by using the online Know Your Risk tool, which can be found at

Although patients cannot self-refer on to the programme, more information can be found by talking to a GP or visiting