Help our local hospitals this New Year by stopping the spread of Norovirus

People living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being urged to help stop the spread of Norovirus this new year to help relieve pressure on the area’s hospitals and health services.

Norovirus – often referred to as the winter vomiting bug – is a very unpleasant and highly contagious stomach bug that causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

It has closed numerous beds over the past few days in hospitals across the region and local health leaders are appealing to the public to play their part in stopping the spread of the condition by following some simple steps.

  • Please don’t visits to hospitals, care homes, nursing homes and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of Norovirus (diarrhoea and vomiting)  – send someone else to visit loved ones until you are better
  • Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work, school or visit hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes and nursing homes
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food
  • Only hand-washing will prevent spread of norovirus – alcohol hand gels DON’T kill the virus
  • Self-treating at home is the best way to help yourself and avoid putting others at risk. You don’t normally need to see your GP as usually drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol to relieve pain will help.
  • If you’re concerned, the NHS 111 phone or online service is a helpful alternative to going to your GP in person for advice.

Health leaders are also urging the public to only visit hospitals over the new year period if it is absolutely necessary.

They are asking local people to use the NHS 111 service if they have an urgent medical problem and are not sure what to do. The service is free to call and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is staffed by fully-trained adviser on the phone, who will advise which local service can offer help and get a face-to-face appointment needed.

Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs said:

“If you do have norovirus, then please don’t visit our hospitals. They are already under serious pressure. Instead, stay at home, drink plenty of water, wash your hands regularly with soap and water and wait at least 48 hours after symptoms have gone before returning to work.”


Accessing health and care services in Wiltshire this Christmas and New Year

With Christmas just around the corner, people living in Wiltshire are being asked to prepare by making sure they know how to access medical care during the coming holiday period.

While all GP practices in Wiltshire will be closed during the Christmas and New Year bank holidays, some pharmacists will be open and there are lots of other ways of accessing medical help and advice should it be needed.

Here’s some tips for how to look after yourself and where to go for help during what is always a very busy time for NHS health services:

Self care

If you have minor bruises, minor cuts and grazes, a sprain or a slight cough or cold, you are best to deal with it yourself in the first instance. It’s worth keeping a few handy medicines and treatments at home for when you might need them such as painkillers, cough and cold remedies, decongestants, indigestion tablets and a first aid kit but remember to keep them out of reach of children. If you’re not sure go to a pharmacist or phone NHS111.

Ask your pharmacist

If you want some expert advice quickly, try a pharmacist as your first port of call. They can provide advice and treatments for common health problems such as coughs, colds, flu and rashes. You don’t need an appointment to see a pharmacist and many have private consultation areas. Your pharmacist will be able to tell you if you need further medical attention.

Use the NHS 111 service

If you’re really not sure what to do, and your GP surgery is closed, NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for help. So if you think you might need to go to the Emergency Department or need another NHS urgent care service, don’t know who to call for medical help or need information about a health issue, give them a call. You can also go online to


These services are for life threatening emergencies only such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. A&E is likely to be extremely busy over the holidays with long waiting times, so please call NHS 111 for advice first if you are not sure where to go.

Full Christmas and New Year opening hours for all pharmacies in Wiltshire are available below. Click here for the downloadable PDF



Health Based Places of Safety (HBPoS) in Swindon and Salisbury

In September 2019, Swindon CCG and Wiltshire CCG Governing Bodies approved a permanent change to the location of the Health Based Places of Safety (HBPoS) in Swindon and Salisbury, which were temporarily closed following poor Care Quality Commission (CQC) feedback. A pilot has been running for the last 18 months to evaluate the experiences of people using a purpose built HBPoS (Bluebell Unit) at Green Lane in Devizes.

An options appraisal was developed following engagement with key stakeholders, including service users, staff and strategic partners. Excellent feedback was received in relation to the pilot service, particularly in relation to the quality of the environment and care provided.  The options were scored by both a Clinical Panel and a panel representing service users.  An Options Appraisal Report identified a preferred option of permanently closing the HBPoS sites at Swindon and Salisbury which was formally ratified by the Swindon Adult’s Health, Adult’s Care and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Wiltshire Health Select Committee in November 2019.

A statement from the CCG – in response to the decision – can be seen below:

“While the CCG acknowledges the community’s strong support for retaining a place of safety in Swindon, the evidence put forward to the Governing Bodies – much of which was obtained through meaningful conversations with people who have real experience of using the service in both its current and former state – clearly shows that local people requiring future mental health support will be best served by maintaining a single facility in Devizes.  

“This move will not only ensure the necessary safety requirements called for by the Care Quality Commission can be achieved, but also that people being detained will have quicker access to professional mental health support in a location that is safe, secure and conducive to their wellbeing and overall recovery.”

New Independent Chair appointed to lead Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire health and care system

Health and care leaders from Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire (BSW) have appointed a new Independent Chair.

Stephanie Elsy, a Non-Executive Director at Solent Community and Mental Health Trust and former Leader of Southwark Council in London, joins the BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) from 9 December 2019.

She will provide independent leadership and work to oversee the ongoing improvement and integration of health and care services across the region.

She will also help to deliver the ambitions set out in BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire’s Five Year Plan  – which will be published early next year – and provide support to the partnership as it develops into an Integrated Care System (ICS) by April 2021.

Integrated Care Systems are NHS organisations working in partnership with local councils and others to take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering NHS standards and improving the health of the population they serve.

Stephanie Elsy said:
“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to work with health and care leaders across BSW during such an exciting time.

“Our local health and care system is under considerable pressure and it is now more important than ever before that we work in a seamlessly integrated manner to improve service quality, improve the health and wellbeing of our local population and deliver financial stability.”

Tracey Cox, Chief Executive Officer of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs and STP Senior Responsible Officer said:

“Appointing Stephanie as an Independent Chair is a significant step forwards for BSW.

“She will play a central role in holding the system to account for delivering positive change, promoting joint working, securing the support of the boards and staff of all of our partners and ensuring the public are engaged and well informed.”

Stephanie has worked in the delivery of public services for over 30 years. She was a CEO in the charity sector for 15 years managing community and residential services for people recovering from substance misuse, people with disabilities and people living with HIV and AIDS.

She has also worked in local politics as a Councillor in the London Borough of Southwark in 1995, becoming Chair of Education in 1998 and then Leader of the Council in 1999.

After retiring from local government in 2002 Stephanie served on the Board of Southwark Primary Care Trust. She then worked for eight years as a Director of External Affairs for Serco Group. Since 2012 she has run a consultancy providing support to businesses delivering services to government. In 2017 she became a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Solent NHS Trust where she now Chairs the Finance and the Community Engagement Committee.

Stephanie lives in Emsworth, Hampshire, is married to her partner of 20 years, Christine, and has three grown up step-daughters and six grandchildren.

Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs –
Joining together as one organisation

On the 1 April 2020, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group will officially take the place of the three individual CCGs that currently exist.

The new, single CCG will serve a population of 934,000 people with 94 member (GPs) practices. It will be responsible for £1.3bn of core NHS funding each year.

The three current CCGs have a shared history of working together effectively to deliver high quality care. They have already established a single executive management structure to provide more consistent leadership and direction to staff working across the three organisations.

NHS England approved the CCGs’ application to merge in October 2019 following an extensive stakeholder engagement programme in July and August. Tracey Cox was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the new CCG in February 2019 and is leading the transition.

The merger will ensure that local people continue to have access to the services they need, where they need them but it will reduce variation in care and standardise best practice, so that everyone in the region receives high quality treatment, regardless of where they live. Working as one organisation will also help the CCG meet financial challenges through offering greater buying power, eliminating the duplication of administrative support functions and streamlining governance processes, which means we can invest more of our budget into frontline services or transformational projects.

In January 2019, The NHS Long Term Plan was published. The plan sets out the need for people to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and CCGs play a strategic role in supporting everyone to do this. As ‘transformers of the system’, CCGs need to lead the way to transform local health and care services. They must work as high level decision makers and purchasers of local services, holding the providers of these services to account. As a single organisation, BSW CCG will be better placed to do this

There is still work to be done before 1 April; not least the recruitment of some key roles to the governing board. At the end of January all posts should be filled and the organisational structure will be published.

The teams at all three CCGs are working together to safely transition colleagues and contracts to the new organisation and create new ways of working.

A new website is being developed in readiness for 1 April but in the meantime you can keep up to date with progress by following us on social media.

Recruitment for BSW lay members underway

In preparation for 1 April 2020 when we merge to become Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire (BSW) CCG, we are searching for dynamic and passionate people to join our governing body as lay members.

Lay members will have a key role in ensuring the newly merged CCG exercises its functions effectively, efficiently, economically and with good governance. We are looking for local individuals with strong links to public and patient engagement to help us improve health, reduce inequalities and provide the best services for a diverse population.

We have a number of roles to fill, each with a specific focus. If you know of anyone who has the skills and experience to help us drive change and improvements to health services across the local area, please share the links below: