Feeling unwell?  Choose the right healthcare

Simon Truelove, Acting Accountable Officer

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In Wiltshire, there are numerous ways to get the right health care advice and treatment you need.  But when you’re feeling unwell it’s not always easy to understand which service is the best for you to use.

Because it’s so confusing, people very often go straight to hospital or to a GP.  But more times than not, that’s not the sort of treatment you need, and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is asking people to consider the range of options available before attending A&E or booking a GP appointment if you think you need treatment.

We have a range of services to choose from so that you don’t need to have to go to hospital or see a GP.

Self-Care

Many illnesses or symptoms – such as coughs, sore throats, upset stomachs and aches and pains can be treated yourself at home if you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet and if you get plenty of rest.

NHS 111

NHS 111 is a free-to-call telephone service you can ring when you need medical or dental help and advice quickly, but when it’s not an emergency. 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Pharmacy/Chemist

Your local pharmacist is a highly trained healthcare professional, who is able to give you advice on common illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them.  Most pharmacies have a quiet area or consultation room where you can have private conversations, and many are open during the evening and weekends.

Doctor

If you have an illness or injury that won’t go away, make an appointment with your GP.  They provide a range of services by appointment, including medical advice, examinations and prescriptions.

A&E or 999

Accident and Emergency departments and the 999 ambulance service are to be used in serious or life-threatening situations.  A&E provides immediate emergency care for people who show the symptoms of serious illness or who are badly injured.

Dr Chet Sheth, GP at St Anne’s Street Practice in Salisbury, said: “We often see people in the surgery with colds and sore throats and, unless the patient is particularly young or old, they can often be treated by a local pharmacist with over-the-counter medicines. Pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge about a range of health issues and they’re experts in medicines – they can also help you to decide whether it’s necessary for you to see a doctor – or not – if you’re unsure.”

For sprains, dislocations, minor cuts and burns or minor eye injuries then one of Wiltshire’s two minor injury units, or the walk-in centre in Salisbury, will be able to help you. If you’re not sure about whether you need to go, then call the 111 service.  They’ll talk through your symptoms with you and advise you on the most appropriate place to go for treatment. If you need urgent medical assistance for a serious or life threatening condition, then always telephone 999 straight away.”

When we’re able to make the right decision on the type of treatment we need, we not only help keep ourselves healthy, but we help to free up time to allow doctors and health care professionals to focus on those people who need their services the most.

That way we all ensure we make the best use of the money we receive for health care and treatment in Wiltshire. Treating people in, or as close to people’s homes as possible, is fundamental to providing NHS services which truly meet Wiltshire people’s needs.

Our community teams

We have community teams working right across our county.  The nurses and healthcare professionals working in each team provide personal, seamless care for people living in our towns and villages, visiting patients in their own homes or at clinics in local buildings.  Your GP will refer you to a community team if you need the sort of treatment they provide, without you having to go into hospital. Every team cares for a number of people across an area of Wiltshire, linking into groups of GP practices.  Community team members have close relationships with other services, such as social care, mental health, domiciliary and voluntary services, to make sure that you get the right sort of care you need.

Our aim is for Wiltshire people to receive efficient, personal and joined up care which allows everyone to continue to live in their local community as long and as well as possible.  With the increasing costs of medicines and treatments, and a national shortage of GPs and other health professionals working in the health sector, the NHS is facing one of its biggest ever challenges.  But in Wiltshire, we’re carving the right path for patients, continuing to give people really good health care services and allowing you to have the right healthcare, for you, with you, near you.

Easter is upon us!

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEB

Doesn’t time go fast when you are having fun? Amazingly enough, the last time I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) for my blog was just after Christmas, and now all of a sudden we’re facing Easter.

I love Easter because to me it really is the start of Spring – green shoots appearing in the hedgerows, and more importantly I can eat my Easter egg with a clear conscience, having abstained from chocolate for the last forty days.

Easter also means a four day break from the normal health services we expect, so as well as thinking about how we’re going to spend our extended leisure time, we also need to think about planning ahead for our health care needs – and for those who may be visiting or for whom we’re looking after.

There are a considerable number of options available to support people if they need medical treatment over the bank holiday. If you take routine medication, have a check to make sure that you have enough to keep you going over the four day period, so that there’s no likelihood of you running out.

So, what routes are open for you to access health care?

For minor health problems, it may be possible to seek advice and treatment from your local pharmacy as many of them are open over the holidays. Sprains, dislocations, minor cuts and burns can be treated at the minor injury units opened in Wiltshire, as well as at the walk-in centre in Salisbury.

We want to ensure that you have access to the help that you need, so if you’re not sure where to go for your health problem, then telephone the NHS 111 service – they will be able to assist you about where to go for advice or treatment nearest to where you live. Remember that if you need urgent medical assistance, call 999 straight away.

Let’s keep the pressures away from hospital A&E departments this Easter period, and use all the other options available to us instead.

For a list of pharmacies open over the Easter Bank holiday, and for the locations and opening times of Minor Injury Units visit www.wiltshireccg.nhs.uk and for information on the walk-in centre in Salisbury visit www.salisburywalkincentre.co.uk

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy Easter!

 

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBDiabetes

Friday the 14th November was World Diabetes Day, which was set up by Diabetes UK to encourage everyone across the world to unite and take action to tackle diabetes.

I have a personal interest in diabetes, having a strong family history of it.

Diabetes is a common lifelong health condition, where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is a risk factor that you can’t do anything about (after all, you can’t chose your genetic mum and dad!), however there are plenty things that we can do to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or if the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1, which occurs when the body doesn’t produce any insulin at all. In the UK, about 90% of all adults with diabetes have Type 2.

So what can we all do to stop ourselves becoming a diabetic statistic?

It is really, really simple: we exercise, we control our weight, we don’t drink too much alcohol and we eat the right foods.

So why is it that we are seeing a rise in the incidence of diabetes? (It is predicted that there will 4.6 million diabetics in the UK by 2030.)

The answer is clearly much more complicated than I have told you. But is it? Or are we just not listening to the messages that we are being given? Personally, I think it is the latter.

The easy option is to carry on as we are and to face the future by burying our heads in the sand in the hope that it will never happen. Sadly, it will happen to many of us unless we do something now.

The main risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is being overweight and this is where we all need to take personal responsibility.

Interestingly there was a report on the radio this morning (20 November), and in the news, stating that obesity is currently costing this country £47 billion a year: a staggering amount of money.

When the Five Year Forward View was announced in October this year, the chief executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, told us that, if we carry on as we are, by 2021 NHS funding faces a shortfall of £30 billion.

So, to me it’s a no brainer: we all need to control our weight. Not only will we be healthier but we’ll be wealthier as well.

I’m off for a game of tennis.

 

The Tower of London

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBI had a fascinating morning at the Tower of London recently.

Along with thousands of others I was overawed by the 888,246 ceramic poppies that are being planted, each one representing a British and Colonial death during World War I, which started 100 years ago.

It certainly made one reflect on the horrific waste of human life and provided a chance to ‘never forget’ those who perished.

As we walked away from the Tower, my wife and I reflected on the numbers involved and then reminded ourselves of the vast numbers that died some four years after the start of the war from the flu pandemic of 1918/19.

The global mortality rate is not exactly known but it is estimated that 10-20% of those infected died and about 30 % of the worlds population were infected, meaning between 3-6% of the entire worlds population died, some 50 to 100 million people.

This huge death toll was caused by an extremely high infection rate and the severity of the symptoms. The close living conditions and massive troop movements of World War 1 probably increased the transmission and mutation of the virus. It has been suggested that soldiers’ immune systems were weakened by malnutrition as well as the stresses of combat and chemical attacks, increasing their susceptibility to infection.

Nowadays we are fortunate that our living conditions have improved and we have better nutrition and supportive treatment for any of those succumbing to flu.

We also have the flu vaccine that is available free of charge to over 65s, pregnant women, children and adults with underlying health conditions. A nasal spray is available for children aged two to 17 years old and at risk of flu plus all children aged two, three or four years old.

The vaccine is developed by the World Health Organisation and is dependant on the predicted type of flu virus that will affect us each year. And it works.

I would implore any one entitled to a free flu jab to make sure that you go and get it. If you are concerned you might be at risk of flu, but do not fall into one of the qualifying categories, you can, for a small fee be vaccinated at many of our local pharmacies by qualified staff. You can even have the vaccination after you have done your weekly shop at several of our large local supermarkets. It really is that easy.

We can’t change history but perhaps we can all play our part in ensuring that flu never has the devastating effect that it once had.

Sorry no time to write more at present, going to have my flu jab – and no I’m not over 65!

Video of Tower of London poppies from above 

 

 

 

Movember

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBOver the last eight years or so, at this time of the year, I have used my time off over half term as a chance to get a sneaky start to Movember, in an attempt to get a head start on my colleagues in the moustache growing department.

Movember is a an annual event that started in Adelaide in 1999 in order to raise awareness of men’s health issues, and involves all participants growing a moustache in November. (Hence me starting in October was a definite Unfair Advantage!)

But how can growing a moustache help men’s health?

In short it is an awareness that helps to educate and empower men to take responsibility for their own health.

As a GP it seems iniquitous that women have screening programmes that are hugely beneficial and yet there was nothing in place for screening men’s health.

Movember started with a conversation between friends and it’s a conversation that remains integral to how the Movember Foundation is changing the face of men’s health.

Today, it is just many more conversations. When you count the online and in-person chat that takes place each Movember, it’s literally billions of conversations. These conversations transcend a casual discussion about moustache growth into serious conversations about men’s health.

Does it work?

It has been shown that the Movember campaign is having a positive impact on getting men engaged and thinking about their health and taking preventative action.

  • 99% of participants talked to someone about their health
  • 75% became more aware of the health issues they face
  • 62% had seen or were intending to see a medical professional to get their key personal data checked (blood pressure, cholesterol, waistline, weight)
  • 50% told someone they should take action to improve their health
  • 75% said they were more likely to tell someone they knew to seek professional health if they thought it was needed
  • 1.7 billion conversations were had

So not only should we think about testicular and prostate cancer, which are peculiar to men, but we should all be thinking about lifestyle choices ie diet, smoking, drinking and exercise, all of which can have an impact on all of our long term health issues.

Those of you that have heard me talk will know how I go banging on about personal responsibility and the need for every one of us take control of our health where at all possible

So if anyone you know is starting to sprout hairs around their top lip it will hopefully be with an ulterior motive of not only becoming more aware of their own health but also making you aware of yours and is to be applauded.

As Chairman of this Health organisation, I will be encouraging those of us that can to join in and support Movember and you never know I may yet again try and gain a small advantage next week.