Monthly Archives: May 2020

Don’t hesitate – if you suspect heart attack, call 999

With the number of people in hospital with coronavirus now at less than half of those at the peak of the pandemic, people in Buckinghamshire are being reminded not to hesitate to use their NHS services if they suspect a medical emergency, such as a heart attack.

Nationally, there has been a steep drop in the numbers of people coming to hospital emergency departments with heart problems. The NHS ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign is urging people to make sure they know the symptoms of a heart attack so they know when to seek urgent help.

The common symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • Chest pain – the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling weak or lightheaded, or both
  • An overwhelming feeling of anxiety

Dr Raj Thakkar, Director for Planned Care and NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Since the Covid-19 crisis we have noticed a significant number of patients staying at home, when they should be calling 999. If you notice chest pain, leading up to your jaw, neck arms and back or shortness of breath you must call 999 straight away. This could save your life.”

Dr Tina Kenny, Medical Director for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “No one should ignore the signs of a heart attack, but recently some people have delayed that vital call to 999.  We’d like to remind people that no one who needs our help is ever a burden to our services, and that every effort is being made to ensure patients with coronavirus are treated separately to those without it, to keep people as safe as possible.

“The risk from having a heart attack and delaying treatment is greater than the perceived risk of coronavirus infection. So please help us help you, by acting quickly to get the right treatment.”

Please be alert to signs of stroke and act FAST during coronavirus outbreak

Your NHS services in Buckinghamshire are asking you to please be alert to the symptoms of stroke in yourself and other people – and to Help Us Help You by urgently calling 999 to get the right treatment as quickly as possible.

There have been concerns that people may delay getting the help they need for serious, life-threatening conditions like stroke because they are worried about coronavirus or being a burden to NHS services. The number of hospital attendances for emergency treatment is down nationally from last year.

But time is a vital factor in treating stroke in patients – the sooner a patient gets medical help, the better their chances of recovery. If you suspect someone, or yourself, may be experiencing a stroke, you should call 999 immediately.

Wycombe Hospital’s specialist stroke unit was awarded an ‘A’ grade by the Stroke National Audit Programme run by the Royal College of Physicians, a rating given to around 1 in 5 units across the country.

Dr Matthew Burn, Stroke Consultant for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Stroke is a genuine medical emergency, and people should never delay seeking urgent help if they suspect they or someone they know may be having a stroke.  If someone is showing signs – one side of their face drooping for example, arm weakness or slurred speech – you should call 999 and ask for an ambulance as soon as possible. Acting quickly saves lives.

“We understand that people may think twice about using hospital services during the coronavirus outbreak, and we have made lots of changes at Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville hospitals to greatly reduce any risk of infection and make sure everyone is treated as safely as possible. If you have any concerns about stroke please don’t hesitate to ask for help – we have an excellent stroke unit in Buckinghamshire and we want to make sure people who need it are using it. Please remember, your NHS services are here for you for more than just coronavirus.”

Dr Raj Thakkar, GP and Director for Planned Care at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “GP practices and hospitals are now working in a way which means we can run life-saving tests at the same time as protecting patients and our own staff from Covid-19 using protective equipment. The risk of ignoring the early signs of a stroke can make a difference between being able to make a full recovery or living with serious disability or even death.”

More information about stroke can be found at

If you think someone is having a stroke, remember to think FAST:

  • Face – Their face may have dropped on one side
  • Arms – They may not be able to lift both arms because of weakness or numbness
  • Speech – Their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all
  • Time – It’s time to call 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms

Prescribing of gluten free foods to continue during COVID-19 emergency

Due to the COVID-19 emergency NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) has taken the decision to postpone plans to stop the routine prescribing of gluten free foods.

The decision was taken in recognition of the additional challenges patients may be facing as a result of government guidelines to stay at home – for example shopping for gluten free foods, accessing deliveries and self-isolation.

This is a temporary measure to support individuals formally diagnosed with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis during very difficult and unprecedented times.

The decision to postpone plans will be reviewed in August 2020, and following that on a monthly basis until an appropriate schedule for implementation can be put in place. At this stage we will share our plans with patients, GPs, Dietitians, Community Pharmacy’s and other stakeholders including Coeliac UK.

The decision to stop routinely prescribing gluten free foods in Buckinghamshire was originally taken by the Governing Body on 12 March 2020. This was with the exception that gluten free bread, bread mixes and flour mixes will only be available to prescribe for patients that meet the exception criteria of ‘dietary neglect’.

The Board acknowledged that some patients are vulnerable and therefore more at risk of dietary neglect. Examples of vulnerable patients who may be at risk of dietary neglect may include those with safeguarding concerns or presenting with malnutrition.

For further information please contact the Medicines Management Team at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning group by emailing

How to access NHS services in Buckinghamshire this Bank Holiday Friday (8 May)

If you need medical help or advice this bank holiday Friday (8 May), the NHS 111 service is here for you to offer guidance or arrange a consultation with a healthcare professional if necessary.  Most pharmacies will also be running across Buckinghamshire.

If you have coronavirus symptoms, you should stay at home. If your symptoms worsen, please refer to the NHS111 online coronavirus service.

If you have a medical problem which is not related to coronavirus, GP services will be available via NHS 111. If possible, please use the NHS 111 online service. But if you cannot access the internet, or need further assistance, you can call NHS 111 .You will then get a call back so you can get advice and guidance on your illness and injury, and further treatment can be arranged if necessary.

Most pharmacies will also be open on the bank holiday, although they will be operating reduced hours. Full details of pharmacy opening times can be found by clicking here, or you can go search for your nearest pharmacy by postcode at

If you do go to a pharmacy, on Friday or at any time, please follow the social distancing guidelines and any other measures that may be being taken to protect both you and their staff.

Hospital A&E services will be running as usual, and if it is an emergency, please call 999.

Dr Raj Bajwa, GP and Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “GP services will still be operating for everyone in Buckinghamshire on the bank holiday Friday, accessible via NHS 111.

“So if you have any healthcare concerns, please use the NHS 111 online service first and this will guide you to the right service – for example, a GP consultation, the Urgent Treatment Centre or A&E.

“And remember, our pharmacies offer very helpful medical advice and over-the-counter treatments for many illnesses or minor cuts and scrapes.  If you are experiencing a genuine medical emergency, however, please always call 999.”

Pharmacy opening times in Buckinghamshire for Bank Holiday Friday (8 May)

Most pharmacies in Buckinghamshire will be open on this Bank Holiday Friday, 8 May, although they may be operating reduced hours.

Full details of which pharmacies in Buckinghamshire will be open and when can be found by clicking here. You can also go to to check the opening times of nearby pharmacies.

If you do go to a pharmacy, on Friday or at any time, please follow the social distancing guidelines and any other measures that may be being taken to protect both you and their staff.

If you have coronavirus symptoms, you should stay at home.

If your symptoms worsen, please refer to the NHS111 online coronavirus service.

You can also click on the following links to view pharmacy times for Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Bucks parents and carers reassured over reports of coronavirus-related illness in children

Parents and carers in Buckinghamshire are being reassured that, despite recent reports of the possibility of an unusual presentation in children which may or may not be linked with coronavirus infection, the risks to children remain low.

But the NHS is reminding everyone they should not hesitate to get in touch with their GP or A&E services if they have concerns about their child’s health.

There have been reports of a small number of cases of a coronavirus- related condition emerging in children. This is because of some advisory information circulated to healthcare professionals in the UK. While these reports have understandably raised fears in parents and carers, the current evidence tells us that most children are not badly affected by the illness.

Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “We already know that a very small number of children can become severely ill with COVID-19 but this is very rare – evidence from throughout the world shows us that children appear to be the part of the population least affected by this infection.

“New diseases may present in ways that surprise us, and clinicians need to be made aware of any emerging evidence of particular symptoms or of underlying conditions which could make a patient more vulnerable to the virus.

“However our advice remains the same: parents should be reassured that children are unlikely to be seriously ill with COVID-19 but if they are concerned about their children’s health for any reason, they should seek help from a health professional.”

You can download this useful guidance for parents on symptoms and seeking advice – it aims to help parents choose the right service at the right time for their child’s illness or injury, whether that is pharmacy, GP, A&E or 999.

Dr Juliet Sutton, GP and Clinical Director for Children’s Services at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a worrying time and we are finding out more about coronavirus all the time. But all the evidence tells us that in the vast majority of cases, children are not badly affected by this illness. We are actually far more concerned that parents may be reluctant to use their GP or A&E services if their child has other serious concerns – fevers, abdominal pains or issues relating to existing conditions like diabetes, for instance.

“So please use this guidance on when to seek help and do not hesitate to use your NHS services if you become worried about your child. Contacting your health services at the right time could help prevent more far serious health concerns in the future.”

Bucks NHS services are urging people to ensure they attend their regular vaccination appointments

Buckinghamshire’s NHS services are urging people to ensure they attend their regular vaccination appointments, both to prevent outbreaks of serious diseases and to reduce pressure on local health services.

Routine vaccination appointments are still going ahead during the coronavirus pandemic, so it is really important that people continue to attend them.

Vaccinations can prevent some very serious – sometimes fatal – diseases, such as meningitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, diphtheria and measles. It is especially important to make sure vulnerable groups are protected by vaccination, including children, babies and pregnant women.

As long as those with appointments do not have symptoms of coronavirus or are not self-isolating because someone in the household is displaying symptoms, all scheduled vaccinations should go ahead as normal.

Measures are in place to keep people as safe as possible from coronavirus, at any setting that vaccinations may be taking place in. Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust sent its immunisation team to Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham on 1 May. The immunisation team used PPE gear and observed social distancing as they did their work, taking care to make sure the children were not put at unnecessary risk of exposure.

There, out of 179 available places, 171 children were vaccinated – an impressive turn out that the team hopes to see in other sessions. There are currently a further 17 immunisation sessions booked in at schools across Buckinghamshire before the usual May half-term week (w/c 25 May).

Sam Smissen, Buckinghamshire Immunisation Team Lead for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We understand that coronavirus is at the forefront of peoples’ minds at the moment, but please do not underestimate the importance of getting routine vaccinations. They can protect you or your loved ones against some very serious, sometimes life-threatening, diseases. The great work done by our team recently at Dr Challoner’s Grammar School is an excellent example of how we can still carry out immunisations in a safe and careful way.”

Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It would be worrying if some people did not get their routine immunisations because they are concerned about coronavirus. Immunisations are as vital to people’s health as ever, regardless of the current outbreak, and there may be serious health consequences if people don’t get the vaccinations they need. So please attend any scheduled vaccinations you may have. We are working really hard to make sure you and your children are as safe as possible at these sessions.”

More information about vaccinations is available at , or you can contact your GP surgery for advice.

Pictured – Immunisation Team at Dr Challoner’s Grammar School