Know where to go for bank holiday health care

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is encouraging people in Wiltshire to know where to go in case they need to access healthcare advice and treatment over the bank holiday weekend.

To help with this, Wiltshire CCG has an easy to use ‘Around the clock healthcare’ leaflet that explains what services are available and when, and is downloadable from their website.

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, Chair of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said,
“Bank holidays are extremely busy times for the NHS and we are asking people in Wiltshire to know where to go if they need to access our local health services.

“A&E departments are often thought of as the first port of call, but in many cases another service may be more appropriate such as NHS 111, minor injuries units or local pharmacy.

“Knowing where to go and when helps you and your family to access the right health care service at the right time and helps to keep the emergency services free for those patients who really need them.”

Healthcare services in Wiltshire
There are a number of healthcare services available around the clock in Wiltshire:

NHS 111 – 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.

Pharmacists – are experts on medicines and how they work. They can also offer advice on common complaints such as coughs, insect bites, ear ache, aches and pains and other health issues and help to decide whether it’s necessary to see a doctor. Find your nearest pharmacy:

Minor Injuries Units – for patients with minor injuries such as sprains and strains, cuts, infected wounds and scalds. No appointments are required and they are led by qualified nurse practitioners. For opening times of Chippenham and Trowbridge MIUs visit

Salisbury walk-in centre – open from 6.30-10pm week days and 8am-8pm at weekends, including bank holidays. Run by a team of experienced doctors and nurses and operates on a first come first served basis, unless someone is acutely unwell and needs immediate attention. Visit for more information.

NHS Choices – the UK’s biggest health website offering thousands of articles, videos and tools, which are available 24/7.

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

Have your say on a new approach to gluten-free prescribing

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reviewing its policy on prescribing gluten-free foods in line with national guidance and is encouraging Wiltshire patients, the public and clinicians to have their say on two proposed options.

The review follows a national public consultation in 2017 by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on the ‘Availability of gluten-free foods on NHS Prescription’ and the resulting guidance announced in February 2018 to restrict gluten-free foods to bread and mixes only – although this does not affect a CCG’s statutory authority to determine its approach at a local level.

Gluten-free prescribing began in the 1960s when no gluten-free foods or products were readily available. Today gluten-free foods are found in most supermarkets, shops and many cafes – including in Wiltshire – and competition has driven pricing down meaning they are affordable dietary alternatives.

Wiltshire CCG has a duty to ensure that the funds it has available for prescribing are spent in a way that benefits most patients. Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018 it spent £241,487 on products such as gluten-free bread, pasta and pizza bases, items which are now readily available and competitively priced. Wiltshire is also the highest prescribing CCG in England of Juvela gluten-free bread and bread mix.

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, Chair of Wiltshire CCG explains,
“The two options proposed are to stop prescribing all gluten-free foods in primary care, or to restrict prescribing to bread and mixes only for those patients with a diagnosis of coeliac disease and/or dermatitis herpetiformis up to the age of 18 years.

“While these proposals will reduce the amount of staple gluten-free foods available on prescription in Wiltshire, it will not affect the vital help and support available to patients diagnosed with coeliac disease and/or dermatitis herpetiformis via their GP or dietician.

“There is also no strong clinical evidence that patients who receive gluten-free food on prescription are more likely to comply with a gluten-free diet, or have better health outcomes than those who do not.”

Patients, the public and clinicians in Wiltshire are encouraged to have their say on the proposed options via a short survey available at The survey is open until 22 July 2018.

Findings from the survey will inform the future prescribing of gluten-free foods in Wiltshire.

Transforming same day health care in and around Devizes

24 November 2015

The way people in Devizes access local primary care services is set to change. Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and doctors from five GP practices are working together to develop an Urgent Care Centre, to transform same day appointments for minor illness and injuries.

Officially launching plans at Devizes Area Board meeting on Monday 23 November, members of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group presented outline proposals for an Urgent Care Centre, to be based on NHS-owned land at Marshall Road, Devizes.

The new service will be designed to reflect the way people expect to receive healthcare today – quick, easy access at a time and place that is convenient to them.  Whether within a GP practice or at the Urgent Care Centre, patients will receive the same high level of care from experienced healthcare practitioners.  Too many people currently use A&E services inappropriately; this new model will help people to get treatment from the right place.

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, Senior Partner at Market Lavington practice said:

“GPs in Devizes will be delivering primary care in a different way.  Our vision means that patients will be triaged by their own GP or the 111 service to the Urgent Care Centre or the most appropriate place for them to be treated.  At the moment a substantial number of Wiltshire people demand urgent GP appointments, which means doctors can’t get around to seeing people with more complex conditions until later in the afternoon.  Our new proposal allows us to free up capacity so that GPs in Devizes can review the care and support for people who are more vulnerable and at much greater risk of going into hospital.”

Dr Sandford-Hill continued:

“Once up and running, there will be, on average, an additional 540 GP appointments available each week across the area, freeing up one and a half hours of GP time each day where we can support patients in other ways.

“As well as having a positive impact on how GP practices manage their patients, we also expect it to have a positive effect on A&E admittance with less people presenting at hospital with minor illnesses and injuries. Our aim is for people to receive an efficient service which meets their needs and is closer to where they live.”

Deborah Fielding, Accountable Officer of Wiltshire CCG said:

“We know that a facility like this is something which has been championed by Devizes people for some considerable time. We still have a long way to go, but we are very optimistic that we will be able to open an Urgent Care Centre for the people of Devizes and surrounding villages within the next two years. We are grateful for the cross-party political support and particularly of Claire Perry MP and the Town Council who have supported our initial ideas to date.

“The next few months will be crucial as our proposals turn into reality. A lot still hinges on the ability to raise the funds required, but we are confident that these plans have an important role to play in the future of healthcare in Devizes.” 

The proposed facility will be built on land currently owned by NHS Property Services on Marshall Road in Devizes, and will be adjacent to the Devizes NHS Treatment Centre. Capital funds will be raised through the sale of the Devizes hospital site and some surplus land currently owned by NHS Property Services on Green Lane in Devizes.

Essentially, the development would be a new build and does not require the Devizes GP practices to sell their existing premises to raise the capital for its funding.  The Treatment Centre (run by Care UK) would be located next door to the proposed new development, ensuring that some services – including x-ray – could be shared.

The proposed plans will see a facility staffed by GPs, emergency care practitioners and nurse practitioners, resulting in faster and extended access to same day primary care advice and treatment.  In-reach support from social care and mental health providers are also proposed, as well as other integrated community support teams who will be based at the facility. The Urgent Care Centre would be open between 8am and 8pm, providing the opportunity to support the Prime Minister’s call to deliver 7 day working.

The CCG proposes an estimated time frame of approximately two years from November 2015.  The first twelve months will entail detailed planning, transport logistics and planning approval, and the twelve months from November 2016 for the build, movement of services from the hospital site and opening to patients.

Simon Truelove, Chief Financial Officer at Wiltshire CCG said:

“At a time when NHS finances are challenged as never before, it’s vital that the CCG and the local GPs are allowed to deliver our vision for the Devizes Urgent Care Centre as smoothly and as quickly as possible. We know the community hospital site is held in fond regard by lots of people in Devizes and the money raised by the site will ensure we can continue to deliver vital primary care services well into the future. The support from NHS Property Services, Wiltshire Council and most importantly the people of Devizes is absolutely crucial.”

Stop the rot

Today, Monday 29 December 2014, Public Health England launches a powerful new campaign to highlight how smoking damages the body and causes a slow and steady decline in a process akin to rotting. The campaign launches as a new expert review commissioned by Public Health England highlights the multiple impacts that toxic ingredients in cigarettes can have on your body. Whilst many smokers know that smoking causes cancer and harms the lungs and heart, the new report highlights how it also damages:

  • Bones and muscles – Smoking causes progressive harm to the musculoskeletal system, and has a negative impact on bone mineral density. Harms include:
    • 25% increased risk of any fracture and a 40% increase in the risk of hip fractures among men
    • Slower healing after injury
    • Increased risk of back and neck pain, leading to a 79% increase in chronic back pain and a 114% increase in disabling lower back pain
    • Significant cause of rheumatoid arthritis and can reduce the impact of treatment
  • Brain – Current smokers are 53% more likely to develop cognitive impairment than non-smokers and 59% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease
  • Teeth – Smoking increases the likelihood of tooth loss and decay
  • Eyes – Smoking damages sight by increasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 78%-358% and increasing the risk of age-related cataracts

To continue reading, click here.

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBDecember – The news themes they aren’t a changing

As it is now December the ‘Mo’ has gone leaving a pleasantly bald top lip. I had some interesting comments regarding the appendage while it was with me, some of which achieved the intended purpose of highlighting men’s health. Perhaps the most damaging was from a member of staff who, in the last week of November, stopped me, stared at me and said: “I bet you can’t wait for December!”

Interesting health issues coming out in the news.

The Secretary of State turning up at an A&E department with an unwell child on a Sunday afternoon, and somehow attempting to defend his corner, despite previously encouraging the public that doing just that was not the appropriate use of A&E facilities.

NICE telling us that we need to carry out more bariatric surgery, as we are all about to become diabetic because we are too fat.

Professor Roger Williams is telling us that we all need liver scans because we drink too much alcohol and we are too fat, and as mentioned in my last blog, the NHS is going to be bankrupt because we are too fat.

There seems to be a bit of a theme here… ‘We are too fat’.

Dieting alone cannot possibly work because if it did none of us would be overweight and there would only be one diet book in print instead of the thousands currently present in any bookshop you walk into. There is no doubt that people on strict diets lose weight but it is also clear that there is a rebound weight increase when they stop, and this type of ‘Yo-Yo’ weight management is detrimental to overall health. The other problem with dieting is that you are constantly thinking about food and, inevitably, constantly hungry, which makes success in sustaining your diet nigh on impossible.

Personally, I have the appetite of a horse and find I can only maintain a reasonable weight by following Michael Mosley’s 5:2 diet. I have been doing so since September 2012 and find it easy to maintain. Happily, I can report that my weight is now stable after an initial loss of over a stone.

However the real solution to any weight problem is lifestyle: eating smaller portions, not grazing between meals and taking appropriate exercise.

To me, as a GP, it’s very clear. If you are too fat you need to lose weight; the state does not need to lose weight for you.

Another item in the news this week: It is safer for healthy women to have babies in a midwife led unit or at home according to a NICE report.

Low risk Mums to be ie those with straightforward pregnancies, and (interestingly) those who have a BMI of less than 30, are better off in maternity led units.

Another good reason to keep that weight down.


Air Quality Website

A new website is available for Wiltshire residents to check the quality of the air outside.  Hosted by Wiltshire Council, it draws on information from air quality monitoring sites across the county.

Wiltshire residents can also sign-up for Know & Respond SMS or email alerts, which is a service that sends information directly to you and provides you with all you need to know about the current air pollution levels.

Health advice is also available and is based on a simple rating system:

  • 1-3 low
  • 4-6 moderate
  • 7-9 high
  • 10 very high

The system is designed to help you take the right action if pollution levels become higher than normal.

Wiltshire Air Quality website

Representatives from Wiltshire CCG will be at the Corsham Area Board on 20 November, which takes place at the Springfield Campus, Beechfield Road, Corsham SN13 9DN.

As well as a Health Fair, which opens at 2.30pm, the CCG will be on hand to talk to you about the Better Care Plan and give you an update on our work.

Wiltshire Council Area Board – Corsham

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 




Today, Tuesday 14 October, sees the start of the Be Clear on Cancer campaign being run again this year by Public Health England.

People are being urged to go to their doctor if they see blood when they pee, even if it’s just once.

For more information, click here.

Representatives from the CCG will be at the Trowbridge Area Board meeting, which is being held in County Hall Trowbridge on Thursday 16 October, between 2pm and 5pm.

Come along and meet with CCG representatives and hear all about the Better Care Plan.  For more information about this Area Board meeting, click here.

Representatives from the CCG will be at the next Area Board meeting, which is being held in Melksham Assembly Hall on Wednesday 15 October, between 4.30pm and 8.30pm.

Come along and hear about the Better Care Plan and talk to health experts, learn about leading a healthier lifestyle and about how your CCG is working to provide the right healthcare for you, with you and near your.

There will be an Area Board meeting in Westbury on Thursday 9 October between 4.30pm and 7.30pm.  It is being held at The Laverton, Bratton Road, Westbury BA13 3EN.

Representatives from the CCG will be in attendance so come along and see us.  We will be talking about our Better Care Plan and there will be a Health Fair, where you can pick up a copy of our Annual Report and Accounts along with other goodies.

The Diabetes Bus will be out and about in Wiltshire over the coming days. Members of the public are invited to come along and get tested to see if you are at risk of diabetes.

The Bus is available at the following places between 9am and 5pm:

Tuesday, October 28: Pewsey (Pewsey Market, Outside Bouverie Hall)
Wednesday, October 29: Amesbury (Car park, SP4 7DR)
Thursday, October 30: Bradford on Avon (Station Car park, BA15 1DQ)
Friday, October 31: Calne (Sainsbury’s car park, The Pippin, SN11 8JG)
Saturday, November 1: Salisbury (Market Square, Guildhall, SP1 1TL)

The bus is part of the Healthy Lifestyle campaign, which is being organised by the CCG, Wiltshire Council and Diabetes UK.

Dr Steve Rowlands, Chairman of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a great opportunity to work with our colleagues at Wiltshire Council as we are all only too aware of the increasing impact that diabetes is having on our communities and by taking our messages on the road we aim to increase people’s awareness of this condition to enable them to take positive lifestyle actions.”

If you’re eligible for the flu vaccine, don’t put it off, get it now

NHS Wiltshire CCG is supporting the NHS Flu campaign.

The campaign will run from 6 October across England, encouraging those who are eligible for the free flu vaccination to take up the offer.  It is targeted at those with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and parents of children aged 2-4.

Adverts will appear on radio and in the press supported by digital search.

Those who catch the flu pass it on to an average of two people putting those most vulnerable at an increased risk including those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.

Flu is a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very suddenly. Healthy individuals usually recover in two to seven days but for some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.

Points to remember are:

  • Don’t put off getting the flu vaccination; if you’re eligible get it now. It’s free because you need it
  • If you have a long-term health condition, even one that is well managed, or you are pregnant, you are at greater risk of severe complications if you catch flu
  • The nasal spray vaccination is a quick, painless and effective way for children aged 2-4 to be protected from flu without the need for injections
  • The flu vaccination is particularly important for those who are at increased risk of flu
  • It is vital that those who are eligible have the flu vaccine every year as the vaccine protects against different strains of flu which evolve each year
  • The flu vaccination is one of the most effective ways to reduce harm from flu
  • The flu vaccine reduces risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and even death among those who are most at risk

If you have a long-term health condition:

  • If you have a long-term health condition, even one that is well managed, you are eligible for the flu vaccination free of charge.  It’s free because you need it
  • Flu can make the effects of your existing condition worse and makes complications like pneumonia more likely

If you are pregnant:

  • If you are pregnant, you are eligible for the flu vaccination free of charge. It’s free because you need it
  • The flu vaccine reduces the risk of complications and potential harmful consequences for both you and your baby if you catch the flu e.g. premature birth
  • Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and as a result you may be less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of flu
  • The flu vaccine is safe during any stage of pregnancy, it does not carry any risks for you or your baby


  • If you have children aged two, three or four, don’t put off taking them for their free flu vaccination
  • The nasal spray vaccination is quick, effective and painless and available to children aged 2-4 years
  • It’s important to protect your little ones from flu and the vaccination is available free on the NHS
  • Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children as they suffer the same symptoms as adults including fever, chills and aching muscles
  • The flu vaccination will help protect your child from flu and also reduce the chance of flu spreading to others

Watch the video here.

Representatives from Wiltshire CCG will be attending the Area Board meeting at Calne on 7 October.  Come along and meet us and listen to our update on how we want to make your healthcare better for you.

There will also be a Health Fair where you can pick up information, leaflets, and other goodies.  Copies of our Annual Report and Accounts will also be available.

For more information see here.