Families encouraged to #wearitwell over the summer holidays

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is encouraging families in Wiltshire to #wearitwell and share photos of their summer holiday fun in the sun as a way of reminding others about the importance of sun protection.

The campaign aims to get people in Wiltshire to share the important health guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Cover Up Mate campaign amongst their friends and families by putting the guidance into practice and uploading their photographic evidence to Twitter using the hashtags #wearitwell and #coverupmate.

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, GP at Market Lavington Surgery and Chair of Wiltshire CCG, explains:
“Each year we remind people about the importance of covering up in sun, but this year we thought we’d get the people of Wiltshire involved in helping to spread the health advice too!
“Getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer, so it’s important that we make sure we take the necessary steps to be able to enjoy the sun safely and to prevent ourselves from sunburn. “Many people are unaware that you can still burn if it’s cloudy or overcast and while sunburn is usually short-lived and mild, it’s important to take precautions to avoid it because it can increase your chances of developing skin cancer later in life.”

How to protect yourself from sunburn

  • Cover up when you are out in the sun – wear loose clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible and protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV light.
  • Use a sun cream with an SPF of 30 or higher and at least 4-star UVA protection and reapply every two hours and after swimming.
  • Seek shade and limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially between 11am and 3pm when UV rays are at their strongest.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps – both cause serious long-term damage and contribute to skin cancer.

What to do if you have sunburn

  • Treat minor sunburn at home by cooling the skin down by having a cool bath or shower. Then apply soothing aftersun or calamine lotion
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help cool you down and prevent you from getting dehydrated. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol will help relieve any pain.
  • Visit your pharmacist for advice on treatment to reduce your symptoms and reduce any inflammation.

If you start to feel unwell or have any concerns about your sunburn, particularly if you are burnt over a large area, have blistering or swelling of the skin, chills, dizziness, sickness or a high temperature of 38c or above, call NHS 111 – they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you notice any changes to your skin after being out in the sun, including a new mole, growth or lump or you have any moles or freckles that have changed in size, shape or colour, you should go and get them seen by your GP. Skin cancer is much easier to treat if it’s found early.

In the UK 86% of cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, could be prevented through enjoying the sun safely.

Find out more: http://www.wiltshireccg.nhs.uk/our-campaigns/wear-it-well-wiltshire

Red bags to help care home residents leave hospital sooner

A new innovative ‘red bag’ scheme launches on 1 August 2019 by Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which is designed to help care home residents in Salisbury who are admitted to hospital, to receive improved care and reduce their length of stay in hospital.

Gill May, Executive Director of Nursing and Quality for Banes, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups said:
“The red bag is a simple initiative that enables a smooth handover from the care home to the ambulance and then to the hospital staff because all of the patient’s information and personal belongings are together in the red bag.

“It helps those who provide care at all stages of the patient’s journey to have immediate access to the information they need, and it will help patients to get home more quickly because the risk of misplacing their belongings is reduced.”

Lisa Wood, Paramedic from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said:
“Because the patient has all of their medical information easily accessible there in the bag, it will help our paramedics to triage the patients and make the right decisions for them more quickly before handing them over to the care of the hospital staff.”

Included in the red bag is a ‘this is me’ document, which provides information about the patient’s needs, interests, likes and dislikes, which helps those caring for them to do so on a more personal level.

While in hospital a patient will see different clinicians in different parts of the hospital. Their red bag stays with them throughout this journey meaning that those caring for them have immediate access to their up to date medical information and medication and the patient keeps their personal items with them.

The red bag stays with the patient until they are ready to go back to their care home and includes a copy of their discharge summary to help the care home staff to provide continuity of care for their resident.

Wiltshire CCG intends to provide red bags to care homes in the rest of the county by the end of this year.

Red bags were first introduced in Sutton CCG, London in November 2015 and so far the initiative has reduced hospital stays by 4.4 days per resident, saving £354,994 in 2017/18; stopped patients losing personal items such as dentures, glasses and hearing aids; and improved communication between care home and hospital staff saving time, resources and duplication.

Wiltshire CCG has taken elements from the Sutton CCG model and worked it into a project that is aimed at improving the experience, quality and safety of patient care, reducing pressure on A&E and supporting effective working relationships between care homes and health and social care organisations.

Three local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups take steps to become one organisation

Three groups responsible for the planning, buying and monitoring of health services in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire could become one single organisation as soon as April 2020.

As one CCG, health leaders can reduce variation in care and standardise best practice so everyone can access high quality treatment and services, regardless of where they live. Working as one organisation will also help the CCG meet financial challenges by, for example, offering greater buying power, eliminating the duplication of administrative support functions and streamlining governance processes. The savings made can then be invested in frontline services or transformational projects.

The move is in line with similar mergers across the NHS and follows national guidance for health and care services to work more closely together and move towards becoming Integrated Care Systems to give everyone the best start in life, world-class care for major health problems and help to age well.

Dr Ian Orpen, Chair of the BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Board, said:
“CCGs up and down the country have either already merged or are beginning plans to merge to help better meet the needs of their local populations. We believe that now is the right time for our three CCGs to come together to form a leaner, more strategic, single organisation to serve local people.

“The three CCGs have a history of working together to deliver high quality care, and in the past year, we have increased our partnership working. For example, we have a single Chief Executive and executive management structure, which has led to more consistent leadership and a clearer direction to staff.

“I believe that as a single CCG, we will be in a stronger position to improve outcomes for patients, whilst still retaining our local voice.”

At their recent public meetings, the Governing Bodies of BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) approved plans to apply to NHS England to create one single organisation. Prior to submitting the application, the CCGs will engage with the public, staff, providers and other key stakeholders, and the GP membership of each CCG will then vote on a final decision to apply for a merger.

The three CCGs will then submit an application to NHS England and, if approved, the three groups will become a single CCG on 1 April 2020.

People living in Bath and North East Somerset (BaNES), Swindon and Wiltshire who want to share their views can do so by visiting:
www.bathandnortheastsomersetccg.nhs.uk
http://www.swindonccg.nhs.uk/
http://www.wiltshireccg.nhs.uk/

What would you change about local health and care services?

Younger people in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being given an opportunity to help shape how health and care services are provided in the future.

Over the next seven weeks, NHS and Local Authority organisations will invite all local residents to say what they need to live healthier and happier lives as part of a new campaign being launched today called Our Health Our Future.

Organisations involved are particularly keen to hear the often overlooked views of younger people who will be using services in the future.
Answers will be used by health and care providers as they work to publish a forward looking plan this autumn which will set out how everyone will be able to access the services and support they need. The new plan will outline a local response to priorities laid out in the NHS Long Term Plan which was published in January.

People will be able to share their views by filling in a simple survey online at www.ourhealthourfuture.org or by asking for a paper copy. They can also pass on their views at engagement events taking place across the local area over the next few weeks.

Tracey Cox, Chief Executive Officer for Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups said:
“Health and care organisations and local authorities are developing a bold plan for the next five years that will ensure our services provide support through every stage of people’s lives – so they start well, live well and age well.

In order to plan for the future, we need to know what matters, so we’re asking everyone to take a few minutes to fill in our survey and make sure their views are heard.

Our Health Our Future is about capturing everybody’s views, but we especially want to hear what younger people expect in the future from our services.

We also want local residents to make an effort to share their views with family and friends so, together, we can build healthier communities.”

Bath-based GP and board member of Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Brynn Bird said:
“We know the way in which health and care is provided will change in the future, especially as our population ages and services come under greater pressure, and we’re developing a plan for how we will face these challenges.

“By filling in our survey, local people will be able to give us a good idea of the services and support they need to prevent ill health and stay fit.”

Alex Luke, Associate Director of Operations for BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, said:
“We know that young people across our area are concerned about lots of issues including access to mental health services. We need to know what help and support people will need in the future and they can let us know what they think in the Our Health Our Future survey.”

The Our Health Our Future survey is open until the end of July and takes around 10 minutes to complete. It can be filled in online at www.ourhealthourfuture.org, by asking for a paper copy at local GP surgeries or by sharing your views at one of our engagement events taking place over the area over the coming weeks. Copies are also available by emailing bswccg.ourhealthourfuture@nhs.net or by calling 03333 219464. Survey answers are completely anonymous and will be treated confidentially.

From 1 June 2019 the non-emergency patient transport service in Bath and North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire will be provided by E-zec Medical Transport Services – a family run company focused on delivering high quality, safe, effective transportation for patients to and from a healthcare setting.

Non-emergency patient transport is for patients who, due to their mobility needs or medical condition, are unable to travel safely by other means. Patients who wish to use the service are required to be assessed against national eligibility criteria.

Mark Harris, Chief Operating Officer, Wiltshire CCG said:
“We are delighted to partner with E-zec as our provider of non-emergency patient transport across BaNES, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire. We have been working closely together since their appointment in December 2018 to ensure eligible patients have a great experience when using the service.”
Andy Wickenden, Commercial Director, E-zec Medical Transport Services said:
“We are very much looking forward to providing patients across the region with a high quality non-emergency transport service. We would like to thank the commissioners and Arriva Transport Solutions for the support they have provided over the last few months while we worked together to ensure a smooth handover of the service.”
Mark Feather, National Head Operations, Arriva Transport Solutions said:
“Arriva Transport Solutions has provided high-quality and caring transport for thousands of patients across the south west and helped to bring a modernised and innovative approach to patient transport at a time of increased pressures across the healthcare service.

“We are proud of the progress we have made and hope the legacy of this work will continue to benefit both patients and healthcare commissioners.”

E-zec delivers services across the UK and currently provides non-emergency patient transport services across Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Further information about the service can be found at www.bgswpatienttransport.co.uk

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 www.diabetes.org.uk

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

New diabetes wellbeing website for people in Wiltshire

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group in conjunction with local GPs has developed a new website – www.diabeteswellbeing.org – specifically aimed at providing support and advice for 23,500 people currently living with Type 2 diabetes in Wiltshire.

Ted Wilson, Director of Community Services and Joint Commissioning at NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“We’re delighted to be able to offer patients this fantastic new website, which provides lots of helpful information to better understand their diabetes diagnosis and practical advice on how to manage their condition.
“Whether someone is newly diagnosed, or is already living with Type 2 diabetes, the website provides a trusted one-stop-shop for the information they need.”
Dr Lindsay Kinlin, GP at the Orchard Partnership said:
“We know there can be a lot of information for patients to take in at appointments, so the new Diabetes Wellbeing website is a great resource for people to refer to afterwards in their own time.
“The website has great advice about small changes you can make to improve your lifestyle, and provides information on a free X-Pert course that patients can sign up to directly.”
The Wiltshire Diabetes Wellbeing website has been funded by the NHS National Diabetes Transformation Programme.

Hundreds have their say on proposals to transform local maternity services

Our Transforming Maternity Services Together Consultation comes to an end on 24 February 2019, so there is still plenty of time to have your say on the proposal for changes to maternity services across the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Maternity System (LMS).

We’ve already heard from over 1000 people, who have shared their views through our online survey, written to us or attended one of our public events, drop in sessions or market stalls. We’ve also been out and about capturing the views of people in our local communities.

Lucy Baker, Acting Director for Maternity Services at Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Lead Director, said:
 ”We would like to thank all the people who have taken the time to complete our survey so far, but we are keen to hear from as many people as possible, in particular those who are planning to start or grow their family in the next few years.

“We want to enhance the experience we provide for people using and working in our maternity services and provide more choice for more women.

“We‘ve been really clear that we’re not proposing to reduce how much we spend or reduce the amount of staff we have. We know that people value having services in their local community and we are not proposing to close any buildings as a result of this proposal – we’re proposing to continue providing maternity services in Chippenham, Frome, Paulton and Trowbridge.

“You can find everything you need at www.transformingmaternity.org.uk. We are encouraging people to take a few minutes to read through the information or view one of our short videos. You can also have a look at the kind of questions people have been asking and our responses.”

Sandy Richards, Transformation Midwife for the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire LMS said: 
”As part of our consultation, we have been keen to talk to as many mums and families as possible to gain their views of our proposals.  

“We are seeing a decline in the number of women choosing to give birth in a Freestanding Midwifery Unit. On average only one baby is delivered every two or three days in each of these units but they need to be staffed to support births 24 hours a day seven days a week. Proposing to support births in two rather than four of our Freestanding Midwifery Units means women will still have this choice, but we can also free up underused staff and resources to enhance our antenatal and post-natal and birthing services.

“We know that many women and families are concerned at the possibility of having to transfer from a Freestanding Midwifery Unit to an Obstetric Unit if labour is not progressing well or more support is required. That’s why this proposal includes creating an Alongside Midwifery Unit at the Royal United Hospital in Bath and Salisbury District Hospital, so more women who have a low risk of complications in labour and are otherwise fit and healthy could have a midwife-led birth, and staff in our Obstetric Units can focus on mothers who need to have their baby in this environment.”

The proposal offers the following:

  • To continue to support births in two, rather than four, of our Freestanding Midwifery Units across Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Swindon. Women will still be able to have their baby in Chippenham and Frome Freestanding Midwifery Units, and antenatal and postnatal clinics will continue to be provided in all four – at Chippenham, Frome, Paulton and Trowbridge as well as all other current locations e.g. GP practices.

A detailed independent travel impact analysis was undertaken to inform our proposal to continue supporting births in two of the Freestanding Midwifery Units.   

  • To create two new Alongside Midwifery Units, one at Salisbury District Hospital and one at the Royal United Hospital. These will enable women to have a midwife-led birth in a more relaxed setting without medical intervention but if support from doctors is needed there is direct access to the Obstetric Unit. These two units will be in addition to the White Horse Birth Centre that already exists at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.
  • To improve the range of antenatal and postnatal services, for example by providing more breastfeeding support to women in their own homes. We also want to support more women to give birth at home if this is their preferred choice.
  • To replace the nine community postnatal beds (four at Chippenham and five at Paulton Freestanding Midwifery Units)with support closer to or in women’s homes. Women who need to be admitted for medical treatment after giving birth would be treated in their local Obstetric Unit at one of our acute hospitals in Bath, Salisbury and Swindon. 95% of the time postnatal beds in our Freestanding Midwifery Units are empty as women rarely need to stay in a community hospital after giving birth. 89 antenatal or postnatal beds are available at our Obstetric Units for women who need them.
Lucy said:
“We believe this proposal will considerably enhance the experience we provide for people using and working in our maternity services. It will allow us to offer more choice for more women, enhance antenatal and post-natal care and ensure we have the right resources in the right place at the right time. You might agree or disagree with our proposal, or have an idea to share – whatever your view is, we’d like to hear from you.”

The consultation closes on 24th February 2019.  The responses will be carefully and independently analysed and the results used to help the Governing Bodies of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups make a final decision by late spring 2019.

New non-emergency patient transport service across BaNES, Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

From 1 June 2019, the non-emergency patient transport service in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire will be provided by E-zec Medical Transport Services – a family run company focused on delivering high quality, safe, effective transportation for patients to and from a healthcare setting.

Andy Wickenden, Commercial Director, E-zec Medical Transport Services said: “We are proud to have been selected as the preferred provider for non-emergency patient transport services across BaNES, Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. We are working closely together with the Clinical Commissioning Groups as we begin our preparations for a seamless handover and countdown to our service starting on 1 June 2019.”

Mark Harris, Chief Operating Officer, Wiltshire CCG said: “We are delighted to be working with E-zec to deliver a non-emergency patient transport service for patients across BaNES, Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Ensuring patients have a great experience when using the service is our priority, and we have carefully designed the contract with E-zec to provide this.”

E-zec delivers services across the UK and currently provides non-emergency patient transport services across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

 

Help the NHS help you this winter by taking simple steps

People living in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Swindon and Wiltshire are being urged to do their bit to help the NHS cope with an increase in demand for services this winter.

As the season gets underway and Christmas approaches, health and care leaders from across the region are asking people to do as much as they can to stay healthy to avoid any unnecessary hospital stays at such a busy time.

We can all help ourselves by following some simple advice:

  • If you’re eligible, get your flu vaccination from your general practice or pharmacy to protect yourself against catching flu this winter. There’s still time.
  • If you start to feel unwell, even just from a cough or cold, don’t wait until it gets more serious – get help from your pharmacist straight away. The sooner you get advice the better – pharmacists are here to help you stay well this winter.
  • If you’ve been prescribed medication, don’t forget to pick up your prescription before the Christmas holidays start. Many GPs and pharmacies will close over the bank holidays. Stock up on any over-the-counter medicines you might need over the festive period.
  • If you do need help over the holiday period when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call NHS 111 to get the right medical attention urgently or visit www.nhs.uk which can direct you to a local service that is open
  • Finally, older neighbours, relatives, friends and other elderly members of the community are more vulnerable in the winter months and may need a bit of extra help. You can help them by keeping in touch, checking if they are feeling under the weather, helping them stock up on food supplies and making sure they have the necessary medication before the Christmas holidays start.
Dr Ian Orpen, a GP based in Bath and chair of B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire STP’s Clinical Board, said:

“As winter gets well and truly underway, health and care services in B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire will begin to experience an increase in demand, so the more our residents can do to stay well this winter and help reduce that pressure, the better.

Taking simple steps such as making sure you have a flu jab, seeing a pharmacist rather than ignoring minor ailments, calling 111 for urgent medical help and ensuring you have a supply of any over the counter medications before the Christmas holidays will really help.

It’s also important that everyone uses the service that is right for their health and care needs. During the winter, hospitals and A&E departments can get very busy – so calling 111 or visiting your pharmacist or GP can make all the difference in making sure that the NHS works most effectively and hospitals are more easily able to treat those with serious conditions or injuries.”

The winter advice has been issued by the B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and is part of a new NHS and Public Health England campaign called Help Us Help You.

The campaign aims to help make it easier for the public to understand the things they can do to manage their own health and get the best out of the NHS. By following the expert advice of NHS staff, the public can stay well; prevent an illness getting worse; take the best course of action; and get well again sooner.

More Primary Care Appointments across B&NES Swindon and Wiltshire will help tackle increased demand for Health Services this winter

It will be much easier for people living in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Swindon and Wiltshire to book an appointment to see a GP, nurse or other health professional during the evenings and weekends this winter thanks to a new initiative to help health and care providers across the region cope with increased demand for services.

As winter begins, surgeries and practices have made it easier for people to book appointments at a number of surgeries across the region at times ranging from 6pm-9pm during weekdays and 8am to 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

The new initiative to make it easier to see a GP or nurse is part of a range of measures introduced across the B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership to ensure people stay well, stay out of hospital and help reduce the increase in demand for health and care services during the winter months.

Other initiatives include encouraging eligible patients to take up the offer of a free flu jab, highlighting the importance of talking to a local pharmacist for advice before minor ailments or winter illnesses get worse and raising awareness of the NHS 111 telephone and online service, which directs patients to the most appropriate service.

Dr Ian Orpen, a GP based in Bath and chair of B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire STP’s Clinical Board, said:

“Offering people across B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire an opportunity to see a GP or nurse at a time that is convenient for them is good news for patients this winter and we hope will help relieve some of the pressures faced by other hard-pressed areas of the health service such as urgent and emergency care.

“Many people across our region find it hard to access GP appointments during normal appointment times and this initiative will be an enormous help to them.

“Winter is always a challenging time for the health service and it’s important that people in our region avoid getting unwell as far as they possibly can. Ultimately, we want to ensure that people who are most at risk of preventable emergency admissions to hospital over winter are aware of and, where possible, motivated to take actions that avoid that happening.”

Dr Andrew Smith, Chief Executive Officer of B&NES Enhanced Medical Services (BEMS), a local GP federation which is currently providing extra appointments on behalf of 19 practices across BaNES with the remaining five to offer the service within the next two weeks, said:

“It is fantastic that people living across the region will be able to access routine appointments at times that suit them best. Patients may need to attend a different GP surgery to the one they usually go to, but staff of the services will have access to their full medical records. To access the full range of appointments, patients will need to book with their usual practice, by phone, during normal working hours.”

Proposal to close St Damian’s Surgery in Melksham

Increased demands on healthcare services and the national shortage of GPs are having an impact on primary care across the UK and in Wiltshire. The Bradford on Avon and Melksham Health Partnership (BoAMHP) have been unable to recruit enough clinicians following the retirement of three full-time GP partners and have sought approval to close St Damian’s Surgery in Melksham.

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group Chair said:
“We understand the challenges facing primary care, particularly around recruitment of clinical staff. BoAMHP has sought approval to close its branch surgery in Melksham because, despite their best efforts, the partners feel unable to maintain a full range of patient services at all of their sites.”
Dr Janice Patrick, Senior Partner at Bradford on Avon and Melksham Health Partnership said:
“This has been a very difficult decision for us to take. Over the past year we have put a lot of measures in place to try and maintain the surgery at St Damian’s, but we find ourselves in a position where we cannot continue to provide a service in Melksham with the resources we have available to us.

“BoAMHP is keen to continue to provide services to as many of the St Damian’s registered patients as wish to stay with their current GP, should our proposal to close the surgery at St Damian’s be approved. We are writing to all St Damian’s patients to explain to them what the proposed closure would mean for them.”

St Damian’s patients who want to continue to see a GP in Melksham would need to register with Giffords Surgery or Spa Medical Centre after the decision is made about the practice closure, in the New Year.

Patients who have questions or would like further information about the proposed closure should contact St Damian’s Surgery.

Transforming Maternity Services Together

A proposal to transform maternity services across Bath and North East Somerset (BANES), Swindon and Wiltshire has been shared with the general public for their consideration today, Monday 12 November.

The proposal has been developed after listening to the views of women, families and staff over the last two years by all the NHS organisations that plan and buy health services as well as those that provide or manage maternity services across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire. Together these organisations make up the Local Maternity System.

Lucy Baker, Acting Director for Maternity Services at Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group
and Lead Director for the project said:
“Our proposal is the result of feedback gained from listening to over 2,000 women and families, staff, midwives, obstetricians and others with an interest in maternity services to look at ways we can improve the services we provide to mothers and families across the region. To do that, we need to make some changes to how we currently do things”.
Lucy added:
“Our proposal would allow us to provide more choice for more women across our area about where and how they are supported before, during and after the birth of their baby, and allows us to make more efficient use of our resources and workforce so we can further improve our antenatal and post-natal and birthing services. We also want to ensure we are delivering the services that can meet the changing needs of our local women and families both now and in the future.

“Despite the financial pressures facing the NHS locally and nationally, we are not planning to reduce how much we spend on maternity services, nor are we proposing to reduce the amount of staff we have or to close any buildings.”

The proposal addresses the issues posed by changes to the population. The average age of a woman giving birth in the UK is now 35. More and more women are experiencing high risk pregnancies (for example, because of high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes) which means they need to be supported in a hospital setting with an expert medical team available. The combination of these factors means there is vastly increased pressure on services at the Obstetric Units at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Great Western Hospital in Swindon and Salisbury District Hospital.  

In addition, many women with a low risk pregnancy are choosing to have their babies in an Obstetric Unit because they are worried about having to move by ambulance to another site during or after their labour if they need the help of a doctor. Women need a safe, convenient alternative so staff at the three obstetric units at Bath, Salisbury and Swindon hospitals can focus on mothers who really need their care.

Sarah Merritt, Head of Nursing and Midwifery at Royal United Hospital, Bath, said:
“Some of the changes we are proposing are because, particularly at the RUH, certain services are underused and we are often staffing empty buildings and beds. 85% of women give birth in one of the three Obstetric Units with fewer than 6% giving birth across our four Freestanding Midwifery Units in Chippenham, Trowbridge, Paulton and Frome.

“We believe we have the right number and mix of staff but they’re not based in the right locations to ensure efficient use of our resources and provide women with the services they need.

“In our Freestanding Midwifery Units – particularly at night – staff are covering areas even when there are no or very few births. On average only one baby is delivered every two or three days in each of these units but they need to be staffed to support births 24 hours a day seven days a week.”

The plans have been developed to ensure services are efficient and sustainable to support future population growth, changes in housing policy, and the repatriation of military personnel to South Wiltshire from April 2019.

The proposal offers the following:

  • To continue to support births in two, rather than four, of our Freestanding Midwifery Units across Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Swindon. Women will still be able to have their baby in Chippenham and Frome Freestanding Midwifery Units, and antenatal and postnatal clinics will continue to be provided in all four – at Chippenham, Frome, Paulton and Trowbridge as well as all other current locations e.g. GP practices. A detailed travel impact analysis was undertaken to inform our proposal to continue supporting births in two of the Freestanding Midwifery Units.
  • To create two new Alongside Midwifery Units, one at Salisbury District Hospital and one at the Royal United Hospital, which will provide more women with the opportunity to have a midwife-led birth. These two units will be in addition to the White Horse Birth Centre that already exists at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.
  • To improve the range of antenatal and postnatal services, for example by providing more breastfeeding support to women in their own homes. We also want to support more women to give birth at home if this is their preferred choice.
  • To replace the nine community postnatal beds (four at Chippenham and five at Paulton Freestanding Midwifery Units) with support closer to or in women’s homes. Women who need to be admitted for medical treatment after giving birth would be treated in their local Obstetric Unit at one of our acute hospitals in Bath, Salisbury and Swindon.
  • 95% of the time post-natal beds in our Freestanding Midwifery Units are empty as women rarely need to stay in a community hospital after giving birth.
  • 89 antenatal or post-natal beds are available at our Obstetric Units for women who need them

Once the public consultation has closed, the responses will be carefully and independently analysed and the results used to help the Governing Bodies of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups make a final decision by Spring 2019.

Lucy Baker said:
“Our proposal is just that – a proposal. It addresses what women and staff have told us they think will work, but we want to hear people’s views and encourage them to have their say.

“The consultation will run from 12 November 2018 until 24 February 2019, to enable plenty of time for people to give their views.

“We will make the consultation results available to the public and explain how their feedback has helped shape our plans. We are aiming to make our final decision in Spring 2019.”

Find out more on our consultation webpage.

All the consultation information and documents, including ways to get involved and to provide feedback will be available online from Monday 12 November, at: www.transformingmaternity.org.uk

Helping each other to stay well this winter

Today is the start of Self Care Week and Wiltshire Council and NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group are encouraging people to be well-prepared ahead of winter by taking simple steps to look after themselves and helping their families, friends and neighbours to do the same.
 

This year, the theme for Self Care Week is ‘Choose Self Care for Life’ and preparing now for the winter ahead will help people, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable, to stay as well as possible.

This means trying to stay active even when the weather is colder, and eating a balanced diet. Wiltshire Council’s health trainers can help people every step of the way – the service is for people aged 18 + and is free. They can also help you find other services and activities to keep you healthy and well over winter.

For more information visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-trainers or call 0300 003 4566.

There are also benefits and grants available to help with energy efficiency, such as cavity wall insulation to help keep homes warm. Call Warm & Safe Wiltshire on 0800 038 5722 or visit www.warmandsafewiltshire.org.uk for more information.

Jerry Wickham, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public health, said:
“It’s also sensible to check on vulnerable neighbours and relatives and ensure they have everything they need to stay safe and warm. Sometimes, simply offering to do the shopping for someone can make a big difference.

“There is a lot of support available to help people to stay safe, healthy, warm and out of hospital this winter and beyond.”

NHS Wiltshire CCG has created an easy-to-use eight-step guide, to help people know what simple steps they can take to help keep themselves well over the winter months.

S – see your pharmacist at first sign of illness

E – eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

L – learn more about around the clock healthcare services in Wiltshire

F – find out if you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine

C – check in on your neighbours

A – arrange to pick up your prescription

R – restock your medicine cabinet 

E – ensure you stay warm

Dr Andrew Girdher, GP at Box Surgery, explains:
“We’re encouraging people to be proactive with their own self-care, to help them stay as healthy as possible and to know where to go if they do need health care advice.

“Healthcare services are put under enormous pressure over the winter months and by doing what you can to look after yourself where you can, helps to free up valuable practitioner time to see those people who really need to be seen.”

Flu season is approaching – get your flu jab now


The clocks have gone back which means winter is on its way. And with winter comes flu. On average, flu kills around 8,000 people a year in England. Getting a flu vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself and others against the flu.

You can have your flu jab at your GP surgery or local pharmacy and for those who are most at risk of suffering serious consequences if they catch the flu, the vaccination is free – it’s free because you need it.

Dr Andrew Girdher, a GP at Box Surgery who had the flu last year, is encouraging those who need the vaccination, to have it:
“For the first time last winter I felt what it was like to experience flu and having a flu jab is definitely on my list of ‘must dos’ at the moment.
“Flu certainly knocked me for six – I had to take five days off work, the first time in 25 years, and I missed the surgery Christmas party. I’m someone who is very fit and active but once I got sick, I was physically unable to get out of my house, even getting out of bed was a challenge.
“People owe it to themselves to get a flu jab before winter, to protect their own health but also to protect the health of their family, work colleagues and friends from the debilitating effects of the flu.
“I also urge all patient-facing workers in health and social care to ensure they get a flu vaccination to reduce the risk to themselves and their patients this winter.”

People who are eligible for a free flu vaccination include:

  • Adults aged 65 and over
  • Adults aged 18-64 with long-term conditions such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart, kidney or liver disease
    or those who have had a stroke
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged 2-3 years
  • Children in school years: reception, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
  • Carers
  • Health and social care workers.

Get your flu vaccination from your GP practice, or pharmacy before the end of November 2018 to help protect you and those around you this winter.

Flu is a highly infectious illness characterised by a fever, chills, headache, aching muscles and joint paint and fatigue. For most healthy people, flu symptoms can make you feel exhausted and unwell so that you have to stay in bed and rest until you get better.

If you think you may have the flu, stay at home and rest until you feel better. Call NHS 111 if you have an underlying health condition or feel really unwell.