Monthly Archives: April 2020

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If you’re concerned about cancer symptoms, don’t delay – contact your NHS services

Your NHS in Buckinghamshire is urging anyone who is concerned they may have cancer symptoms not to waste a moment in contacting their health services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Identifying cancers as early as possible can make a huge difference to the success of treatments and recovery speeds.

And, since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a fall in the number of people GPs would normally refer into cancer diagnosis and treatment services.

Recent research, by Portland Research Group, suggests too many people are avoiding using their health services at the moment, even if they have serious concerns. The top reasons given for this are worries about getting coronavirus or passing it on to loved ones, and being a burden to the NHS.

But measures are in place at GP surgeries and hospitals to keep people as safe as possible from catching the virus, by keeping patients with coronavirus in separate areas. And your health services want to help you as soon as possible – not only does this improve the chances of effective treatment, but delays can ultimately lead to more complex treatments being needed and cause a greater burden on the NHS.

GPs are currently giving consultations over the phone and inviting patients in only when it is appropriate. And coronavirus-free cancer hubs have been set up to provide surgery where necessary, supported by cooperation from hospitals in the independent sector. Any decisions about referring patients for treatment will be carefully taken to keep people as healthy and safe as possible during the pandemic.

Dr Raj Thakkar, Director for Planned Care at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We understand this is a very concerning time for people, and we are all conscious of how important it is to avoid catching coronavirus. But it is also essential that anyone who suspects they have cancer symptoms should contact us as soon as possible. We have been working extremely hard to make sure patients can safely access essential services when they need to, like cancer diagnosis or urgent surgery. By delaying that vital call, people may be putting their lives at risk.”

Andrew McLaren, Cancer Lead for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “It is really important people seek help as they always would. Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer saves lives every day, while ignoring symptoms can have very serious health consequences. We are still here to help all of our population, not only those with coronavirus. So please use your health services when you need to – making the right call now could save your life.”

Mrs Jennifer Graystone, Lead Clinician, Thames Valley Cancer Alliance, said: “In Thames Valley, it is important to know that cancer services are still here for people who need them. If you have any concerning symptoms, you should contact your GP who will be able to assess your needs. Across the Thames Valley, we are committed to providing cancer treatment to people who need it as safely and as quickly as possible.”

For more information on spotting signs of cancer, please go to nhs.uk/cancer

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Your NHS services are here for you and safe to use during coronavirus

NHS services across Buckinghamshire are reminding people that hospital Emergency Departments and GP services are still here for them and still safe to use, despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Attendance at both hospitals and GP practices for non-coronavirus illnesses or injuries are lower than usual for this period.

This has raised concerns that people who should be getting medical advice or treatment may be nervous about using NHS services. The danger is that serious issues like strokes and heart attacks may not be treated quickly enough, which could lead to slower recovery rates and even prove fatal. A&E services are still open as usual and you can still call 999 in medical emergencies.

People also don’t seem to be using GP services as often as usual. This is especially concerning in cases where people may be living with long-term conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, or when vulnerable adults or children may need support. By not using GP services now, people may find themselves with more serious health concerns later on.

GP surgeries are closed for walk-in appointments, but you can call to arrange a telephone consultation or, if you are over 16, use the AskNHS app. In some cases – where clinically appropriate – people may be invited in for a face to face consultation.

Dr Tina Kenny, Medical Director at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We understand that sick or injured people may be avoiding coming to hospital, perhaps because they worry about burdening NHS services or being exposed to coronavirus. But we are very carefully managing the flow of patients with coronavirus symptoms so they are in separate areas to other patients, keeping everyone as safe as possible.

“So please use your NHS services if you or a loved one needs medical attention – getting the right help at the right time can save lives.”

Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Your GP services are here for you during the coronavirus outbreak and we want you to keep using them.

“We know there are people out there who need our help and who are risking their long-term health by not contacting us. We’re particularly concerned about people with long term conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, as well as children, elderly or vulnerable people and adults with learning disabilities.”

National advice for people who think they may have COVID-19 remains to visit NHS 111 online and self-isolate for seven days.

For more information, please visit the NHS COVID-19 website

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GP practices and pharmacies to stay open for telephone appointments on Good Friday and Easter Monday

GP practices are going to be open for telephone appointments on Good Friday (10 April) and Easter Monday (13 April).

Pharmacies will also be open but may have different opening hours. You can check these opening times by clicking here (pharmacies are sorted alphabetically by town/village – list updated on Friday, 10 April).

Dr Raj Bajwa, GP and Clinical Chair of Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Due to the current coronavirus pandemic we are expecting the long Easter weekend to be a particularly busy time for the NHS.

“We hope that by keeping GP practices and pharmacies open in this way we will be able to continue to provide care to those who need it and alleviate some of the pressure on the healthcare system at this time.”

If you do have a medical problem that is not related to coronavirus please contact your GP. All GP appointments will initially be on the telephone. The GP will do all they can to help you over the phone – however, should they feel the need to see you face to face for an examination, you will be invited to the surgery for review. Do not go into your GP practice in person without prior agreement.

Please use these services responsibly and appropriately to ensure people with the most need receive care during the pandemic. If you have coronavirus symptoms you should stay at home and self-isolate for seven days. Others in the household should self-isolate for 14 days. You can visit NHS online and use the 111 coronavirus service to get support and advice. Only call 111 if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home or you do not have internet access; if needs be you may be directed to a COVID-19 clinic in the community. This approach will free up help for those who most need it.

Pharmacy opening times will be published on the NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group website when they are available.

If you need health advice when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed call NHS 111 to get advice on local services which are open.

You can also visit NHS choices at www.nhs.uk

Emergency Departments (A&E) and the 999 emergency ambulance service provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attack or stroke, severe breathing difficulties or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.  In these extreme cases call 999 immediately.

Choosing the right NHS service will help get you the best advice and reduces pressure on A&E and GP services, freeing them up to help those who need it most during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice

The NHS in Buckinghamshire and Public Health England are well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to protect patients, our community and NHS staff while ensuring as many services as possible are available to the public.

  • Up-to-date NHS information on the COVID-19 infection, including symptoms and when people should stay at home, can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19
  • For the latest advice and information about Coronavirus from Public Health England, please click here.
  • NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has information about changes to services at its hospitals (including Stoke Mandeville, Wycombe and Amersham) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • You can find local information and advice on council services (including schools, social care, transport), at this Buckinghamshire Council webpage. This page also explains how to get involved in Local Support Hubs to help vulnerable people, and how to access help if you are in need.

Please stay at home:

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Do not meet others, even friends or family.

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

 

And please remember:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.