March 2018


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Welcome to March’s edition of ‘in touch’.

In this issue, we tell you about Carer Support Wiltshire’s new contact which starts on 1 April 2018 where they will provide support to carers of all ages in Wiltshire.  We are delighted to continue working with Carer Support Wiltshire; they play an invaluable role in supporting carers meaning that many of the people who they care for are able to remain in their own homes and out of hospital or care homes.

The Easter bank holiday break will be here soon and with this comes additional pressures on health services, especially A&E.  We are reminding people who are not seriously ill about the alternative health care services available over the bank holiday and to help you make the right decision about where to go download our ‘Around the clock healthcare leaflet’.

To help enable us to provide safe environments that reduce harm from exposure to second-hand smoke, all NHS sites in Wiltshire have pledged to become completely smoke free from 1 January 2019. We are already a smoke free NHS site here at Southgate House, but some NHS sites in Wiltshire still have designated areas for smoking.  This means in nine months’ time smoking will not be permitted on any NHS sites in Wiltshire including all buildings, grounds and vehicles.  It also means that designated smoking areas will be removed.  There is plenty of help available if you want to quit smoking on

Be sure to set your clocks forward this weekend and let’s start to enjoy the longer and warmer days to come!


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In the news!

Find the right health advice and treatment over the Easter bank holiday

The four day break over Easter can sometimes catch people off guard when it comes to planning for their healthcare needs.  With GP surgeries in Wiltshire closed on Friday 30 March and Monday 2 April, we are asking people to plan ahead and consider the range of healthcare services available if they need medical advice, or treatment over the bank holiday.

It’s important that people understand where to go for health advice so that people avoid going to A&E for less serious illnesses and injury and to help with this, we have produced an easy to use ‘Around the clock healthcare in Wiltshire leaflet’. 

By making the right choices, people get the help they need, when they need it and it also helps reduce the impact on the health system over what is an extremely busy period for A&E departments in Wiltshire.

For a minor health problem it may be possible to seek health and advice from your local pharmacy, many of which will be open over the bank holiday.  Pharmacists are experts on medicine and how they work.  They can also offer advice on common complaints such as coughs, colds, aches and pains and other health issues and help to decide whether it’s necessary for you to see a doctor.

We also strongly recommend that people think ahead and check that they have enough of their routine medication to see them through the four day weekend.  If you need to order more, it is advisable to request it well in advance of the bank holiday to ensure that you receive it in time.

NHS 111 is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from landlines and mobiles.  It is staffed by a team of fully trained advisers, supported by experienced clinicians.  Healthcare advice can be given over the telephone or you may be directed to a local service if appropriate.

For life threatening situations, serious injuries, loss of consciousness, chest pain or suspected stroke you should always call 999.

The views of over 200 individuals from across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire have helped shape a modern service for children and young people with emotional wellbeing and mental health problems.

New contact for Carer Support Wiltshire to support carers of all ages

Carer Support Wiltshire starts their new contract to support carers of all ages on 1 April 2018.  The contact was awarded by Wiltshire Council, with funding support from NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and builds on the existing work the organisation been doing with both organisation for a number of years to support adult carers. 

 The new contract will involve the organisation providing services and support for all carers in Wiltshire, including young carers, parent carers, those juggling work with caring and an aging population living longer and looking after loved ones.

One of their focuses will be going out into the community to improve information and accessibility for all and this will be done by introducing Community Connectors, who will work across Wiltshire to raise awareness, and support and identify carers and they will be in the following areas:

  • Malmesbury, Royal Wootton Bassett and Calne
  • Chippenham, Corsham and Bradford-on-Avon
  • Devizes, Marlborough and Pewsey
  • Melksham, Trowbridge and Westbury
  • Tidworth, South Wilts and Salisbury
  • Warminster, Mere and South West Wiltshire

Their young carer service will also begin from 1 April 2018 to ensure that all young carers are identified and properly supported.  They will work with schools, colleges, community groups and delivery partners, such as Youth Action Wiltshire to provide young carers with breaks, activities and opportunities to learn, aspire and grow.

Carers play an invaluable role within our communities and this new contract will help strengthen the support that is provided to them and will also help raise awareness of what is available to help support carers in their caring role.  Find out more by visiting the Carer Support Wiltshire website.

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Focus on ‘Smoke Free NHS’

‘Stub it out’

That’s the message to smokers as all NHS sites in Wiltshire begin their nine month countdown to becoming completely smoke free.

In order to help reduce the number of people who smoke and the serious illnesses associated with smoking, the pledge is for all of NHS sites in Wiltshire to smoke free by Tuesday 1 January 2019. 

In nine months’ time staff, patients and visitors (including contractors and suppliers) will no longer be able to smoke anywhere on NHS sites, including grounds and gardens or in vehicles and car parks.

NHS buildings in Wiltshire have been smoke free for several years, but the introduction of this new policy means smoking and tobacco use will not be allowed anywhere on site.  Home of the Clinical Commissioning Group, Southgate House in Devizes is already a non-smoking site but some of our NHS sites in Wiltshire still have designated areas for smoking, which are used by staff, patients and visitors.  From Tuesday 1 January 2019, this will no longer be the case. 

By NHS sites going smoke free, it will mean a much safer and fresher environment for our patients, our visitors and our staff and will bring significant benefits for the health and wellbeing of everyone in our using NHS services.

We know, for example, that patients recover quicker from periods of illness or injury, have shorter lengths of stay in hospital, require less medication and generally have fewer complications, when they do not smoke.

Over the next nine months we will be engaging with our staff, patients and visitors to identify the most effective ways to support them, and the announcement is being made nine months ahead of implementation of a smoke free NHS in Wiltshire to provide time for those who do smoke to be prepared for the change, and to give them the opportunity to quit smoking.

If you would like support to quit smoking, please visit : for expert advice and support or call the Smokefree National Helpline to speak to a trained adviser on 0300 123 1044.

We understand that some people may not wish to stop smoking during their stay in hospitals, or whilst at work and support will be provided to assist them in abstaining whilst they are on an NHS site through Nicotine Replacement Therapy and support from stop smoking advisors.

There are many benefits in not smoking both to the smoker, their family and loved ones and the wider community. 

Some of the benefits of not smoking can affect the body very quickly:
  • After 20 minutes blood pressure and heart rate can return to normal
  • After 8 hours nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood half and oxygen levels return to normal
  • After 1 day lungs start to clear and carbon monoxide levels return to normal
  • After 2 days ability to smell and taste are improved
  • After 3 days breathing becomes easier and energy levels improve
  • After 3 – 9 months 
  • lung function improves by 10% and there is improvement with coughing, breathing and wheezing
  • After 5 years risk of stroke returns to that of a non-smoker
  • After 10 years risk of lung cancer returns to that of a non-smoker

There is no given right to smoke and no obligation to permit people to smoke.  It is part of our duty to improve and protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, patients and wider communities and this includes ensuring we uphold their right to be protected from second hand smoke.

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Have your say!

Make a difference: Join your Patient Participation Group

A patient participation group (PPG) is made up of volunteers from patients and carers of patients registered at a GP practice.  PPGs meet regularly and work in partnership with the practice staff and doctors to ensure the practice deliver high quality and responsive care. 

PPGs can also offer a way for patients and practice staff to talk to each other, to share experiences and ideas, and to work together to improve patient experience.

The main purpose of most PPGs is to represent patients’ views and work with the practice to make changes. Some PPGs also volunteer to carry out other activities such as health promotion events, acting as advocates to encourage other patients to take responsibility for their own health, setting up support groups, promoting practice services and sharing information.

If you want to join your patient participation group speak to the staff at your practice who will advise you on how to join and become an active member of their PPG.


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Your pharmacy can help!

Your pharmacy team can help you with minor health concerns. To find out where your nearest pharmacy is, visit our website.

Community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are qualified healthcare professionals who can offer clinical advice and over the counter medicines to effectively and safely manage a range of minor health concerns, including:



  • Sore throats
  • Coughs
  • Colds
  • Tummy troubles
  • Teething

Every pharmacist is trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice, so they are the right person to see for minor health concerns.

With over 12,000 pharmacies open every day of the week in England, and many offering extended opening hours in the evenings and weekends, it is easy to find a pharmacy close to you.

Pharmacists are healthcare experts who can give you clinical advice, right there and then, and if your symptoms are more serious, they can ensure you get the help you need.
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Promoting Cancer 

In last month’s newsletter we gave a focus on cancer, and how one in three people in England will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.  Recognising the signs and symptoms of cancer early could save your life and this month we are focusing on Prostate cancer and Cervical cancer.  If you do recognise any of the symptoms, tell your doctor.  If it’s detected early, it is more treatable.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

Prostate cancer develops slowly, so there may be no signs you have it for many year.  Symptoms often only become apparent when your prostate is large enough to affect the urethra and when this happens, you may notice things like an increased need to urinate, straining while urinating and a feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied.

These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored, but they do not mean you definitely have prostate cancer.

For many men with prostate cancer, treatment is not immediately necessary.  If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance” may be adopted.  This involves carefully monitoring your condition.

Some cases of prostate cancer can be cured if treated in the early stages and treatment includes surgically removing the prostate, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

Some cases are only diagnosed at a later stage when the cancer has spread.  If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, typically the bones, it cannot be cured and treatment is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms.

As prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly, you can live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment.

Learn more about prostate cancer on NHS Choices.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a women’s cervix (the entrance to the womb) and has no symptoms in its early stages.  If you do have symptoms, the most common is unusual vaginal bleeding, which can occur after sex, in between periods or after the menopause.

Abnormal bleeding doesn’t mean that you definitely have cervical cancer, but it should be investigated by your GP as soon as possible.  If your GP thinks you might have cervical cancer, you should be referred to see a specialist within two weeks.

The NHS offers a cervical screening programme to all women from the age of 25.  During cervical screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities.  You will receive a letter from your GP offering you a screening appointment and we urge to you attend.

An abnormal cervical screening test doesn’t mean you definitely have cancer.  Most abnormal results are caused by an infection or the presence of treatable precancerous cells, rather than cancer itself.

If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it’s usually possible to treat it using surgery.  In some cases, it’s possible to leave the womb in place, but it may need to be removed.  The surgical procedure used to remove the womb is called a hysterectomy.  Radiotherapy is an alternative to surgery for some women with early stage cervical cancer and in some cases it’s used alongside surgery.

The stage at which cervical cancer is diagnosed is an important factor in determining a women’s outlook, and this is dependent on how far the cancer has spread.

The chances of living for at least five years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer are:

Stage 1: 80 – 99%
Stage 2: 60 – 90%
Stage 3: 30 – 50%
Stage 4: 20%

In the UK, just under 1,000 women die from cervical cancer every year.  You can find out more information on cervical  cancer on NHS Choices.

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