Monthly Archives: December 2020

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COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

The NHS has begun to deliver a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination programme beginning with people identified in the priority cohorts by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on thousands of people and assessed by experts.

Primary care, hospital and community teams are working with our county and borough councils and a wide range of other community partners and are doing an incredible job to deliver what is the largest vaccination programme in NHS history.

The public have an important part to play to help us do this:

  • please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you;
  • when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments;
  • and please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives.

Please click here and scroll down to view a set of Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.

And here is an easy read guide to the vaccine, produced by Mencap.

You can also click here to view a series of videos in different South Asian languages which address some of the concerns raised by people from ethnic minorities about the COVID-19 vaccine.

These videos, created by the UK Vaccine Taskforce and hosted on the BBC News web pages, are in GujaratiPunjabiSylhetiTamil and Urdu – as well as English.

 

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Live Life Well – free online healthy lifestyle workshops to get 2021 off to the right start

Live Life Well

The New Year is nearly here – and that means many of us will be thinking about making some lifestyle changes to improve our physical and mental health in 2021.

And now that Buckinghamshire is currently in Tier 4 restrictions, it is more important than ever that we take care of ourselves.

To help people make better lifestyle choices and make them stick, a series of free online sessions – Live Life Well – have been developed by NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group in partnership with Bucks Adult Learning.

Running in January, they are packed with healthy lifestyle information and tips – and you can secure a place on them now.

Each session will give useful advice on keeping well – through a sensible diet, physical activity, and by recognising stress and anxiety.  They also let you set personal goals to help you achieve these changes.

Dr Stuart Logan, Clinical Director for Long Term Conditions, Prevention & Supported Self-Care at NHS Buckinghamshire CCG, said: “Many of us want to make better lifestyle choices as part of our New Year’s resolutions, but sticking to them is easier said than done. These online sessions are designed to help people make better choices by giving them the right information.

“It has been a really hard year for all of us, and, although the COVID vaccine is being rolled out, we still have difficult weeks and months ahead. Making the right choices for our physical and mental health can make a huge difference, and we hope as many people as possible sign up for these online sessions to give them a better start to 2021.”

The sessions are listed below. They run during the day and the evening, and you can attend one or all three.

To enrol, click on the link below or call 01296 383582, stating which course code you would like to attend. More details are available on this flyer.

  • Recognising Stress & Anxiety
  1. Tuesday 12 January 14:00 – 15:00 (Course code: U2PH05AHO) or
    Thursday 14 January 18:30 – 19:30 (Course code: U4PH04AHO)
  • Reflect and describe the connection between stress and the body’s response to it
  • Give in your own words what triggers stress and find ways to manage it
  • Experience a relaxation session

 

  • Eating for Health

Tuesday 19 January 14:00 – 15:00 (Course code: U2PH06AHO) or
Thursday 21 January 18:30 – 19:30 (Course code: U4PH07AHO)

  • Recognise what constitutes a good diet
  • Summarise the important food groups and sources
  • Give examples of what makes a healthy diet

 

  • The Importance of Physical Activity for your Health & Wellbeing

Tuesday 26 January 14:00 – 15:00 (Course code: U2PH08AHO) or
Thursday 28 January 18:30 – 19:30 (Course code: U4PH09AHO)

  • Specify the benefits of being physically active
  • Recognise the detrimental effect on health by being physically inactive
  • Identify what is meant by ‘physical activity’

 

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Buckinghamshire’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues in Princes Risborough and Winslow

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination continues across Buckinghamshire this week (w/c 21 December), as GP-led Primary Care Networks in Princes Risborough and Winslow begin vaccinating local patients aged 80 and over.

These follow the first COVID vaccination site in the county on Monday, 14 December, at Chalfont St Peter, with more to come over the next few weeks and months.

As well as people aged 80 and over, care home staff are also being prioritised in this first phase of the national vaccination rollout. This is in line with the national Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) prioritisation programme.

All patients who are eligible to have the vaccine at this stage will be contacted by the NHS first. Patients are being asked not to contact their GP practice to try to arrange an appointment.

The new vaccination sites in the Princes Risborough and Winslow areas hope to be operating from Monday, 21 December, but this date may be subject to change.

More GP-led Primary Care Networks in Buckinghamshire  will be joining the vaccination programme in phases, and details of these will be provided when they are available.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It is hugely encouraging to see this first phase of the COVID vaccination rollout continue across Buckinghamshire as we reach the end of this very difficult year. We would ask that people please be patient, however. The vaccination programme is very complex and our GP practice staff are working incredibly hard to ensure that our most vulnerable patients are protected as soon as possible. Please do not contact your GP surgery yourself, but instead wait for the NHS to contact you.

“Other age groups and vulnerable patients will be offered the vaccination over the coming weeks and months, in line with the national priorities of this phased rollout. In the meantime, please follow the safety guidance to protect yourself and your loved ones, and please do take care over the Christmas period.”

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First patient in Bucks receives COVID-19 vaccine

 

Patient Brian Horne receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Helen Ellis.

Ninety-year-old Brian Horne will have some story to share with his friends at the luncheon club he volunteers at every month. The nonagenarian from Chalfont St Peter became the first patient in Buckinghamshire to receive the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, on Monday 14 December.

Brian, a patient at the Hall Practice in Chalfont St Peter, was vaccinated as part of the national GP rollout of the vaccine which started that week.

Speaking afterwards, Brian, who has three children and six grandchildren said: “It is exciting, I feel most honoured. I got a phone call from the surgery on Friday, they asked me to come along today and here I am.”

One of the things Brian is looking forward to the most, other than being able to see his family, is going back to the ‘Friendship Lunch Club’ that he has been involved with for the past 10 years. The club, run by St James’ Church, provides a social way for the elderly who live on their own locally to meet up and enjoy each other’s company. Over the years Brian has been involved, it has grown and grown with more than 100 people attending lunches across the month. “I’ve been redundant since March”, Brian jokes, as the club had to stop running. “I’ve missed it, as you get older, you need to keep occupied so I am looking forward to going back.”

Having had his first jab Brian is delighted to be on his way to being protected from the virus and will be urging his friends to follow suit when they get the call to have their vaccine.

Nurse Helen Ellis, lead practice nurse of 23 years at the Misbourne Practice and part of the COVID-19 mobilisation team at the Chalfont Primary Care Network (PCN), gave Brian the potentially life-saving vaccine. She said: “It’s exciting to be part of this, we are making history. I’m really proud of the role we are playing in both in the network and in primary care as a whole. We are the end of a long line of people who have made this happen. I will remember this day for a long time. We are finally helping people to get their lives back after this devastating year.”

The phased national vaccination programme will see patients aged 80 and over amongst the first to receive the jab. The PCN has been given vaccines for the first wave of the programme, all of which will be given out to local patients over the coming days and weeks.

Dr Nicky Turner, Clinical Director of the Chalfont PCN and GP of 23 years at the Hall Practice, said: “This is a historic day for Buckinghamshire and for the whole country. We are delighted to be one of the first practices to be able to start vaccinating our patients against this deadly virus. We are really proud at the way the whole team has mobilised so quickly. It has been a huge team effort over just a few short days with everyone pulling together to make this happen.”

Patients will be invited to come for their vaccine on a person by person basis as part of the JCVI ( Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation) prioritisation programme with contact made directly from their GP surgery. Patients are asked not to make contact with their surgery but to wait for the surgery to contact them. In the meantime everyone should continue to follow Government guidelines to control the virus and save lives.

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Help available for young people experiencing mental health difficulties this winter

If you are aged 18 or below and are experiencing any difficulties with your mental health or emotional wellbeing this winter – or if you know any children or young people who are –a range of help and support is available online which could make a difference.

The Buckinghamshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) web page offers advice, information and useful tips aimed at young people aged 18 and under.

Whether it is moderate anxiety, depression, eating disorders or any number of other concerns, the web page has lots of guidance available.  There are also links to other support organisations and details of useful books and online apps that may be helpful. You can also contact the CAMHS team to arrange an appointment if needed.

To access the Buckinghamshire CAMHS webpages, which are run by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, simply go to www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/camhs/bucks.

A 24/7 Mental Health Helpline is also available to support children and young people, as well as their parents, carers and adults, via NHS 111 (or online at 111.nhs.uk). The helpline is staffed by Oxford Health mental health professionals.

Dr Juliet Sutton, GP and Clinical Director for Children’s Services and NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This year has been incredibly difficult for us all because of the pandemic and children and young people have been hard hit. They have experienced school closures, missed out on social contact with friends, and many will have been unable to see grandparents or other vulnerable family members in the usual way. Lots of young people have also lost loved ones, whether due to COVID or other causes, in this confusing and worrying time.”

Dr Sian Roberts, GP and Clinical Director for Mental Health and Learning at NHS Buckinghamshire CCG, added: “All of these things impact on our mental health and emotional wellbeing. But help and support is out there, and it can really make a difference. If you are a young person experiencing difficulties this winter, or if you have any children or young people in your life who you are concerned about, please do visit the CAMHS webpage – it is a great first port of call for advice and support. And if you need more immediate help, there is also the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline available via NHS 111.”

Eleanor Rowsell, Head of Psychological Services at Buckinghamshire’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, said: “Young and old, we’ve all felt the challenges of 2020. Buckinghamshire CAMHS is here to support children and young people, their family and carers.

“Our website offers a wealth of information and simple steps families and young people can take to support their mental health.

“We know it can be hard to reach out for help and so also offer 11 to 19 year olds access to Kooth (www.kooth.com) who provide free online mental health support 365 days a year.  This includes chats (counselling) with a professional counsellor, reading self-help articles, and joining peer-to-peer forums.

“People can get in touch with our services directly through the website or, for urgent advice, they can speak to our mental health professionals at Buckinghamshire 24/7 Mental Health Helpline via NHS 111.”

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Wycombe GP surgery praised for patient care throughout pandemic

A High Wycombe GP surgery has been commended for the “exemplary care” it has offered its patients since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Riverside Surgery, in George Street, serves 9,875 registered patients.

Like all surgeries, the start of the pandemic meant that Riverside had to change the way it did things in order to keep patients safe and work to stop the spread of COVID-19.

One patient, and a member of the surgery’s Patient Participation Group, Tess Watkins, has extended her thanks for its good work.

Mrs Watkins said: “Riverside Surgery has been praised by the PPG and many patients that feed their opinions into it regarding the exemplary care and consideration they have given their patients in the past 9 months. They have obviously put their patients first, despite the risks to themselves.

“Every patient that needed to speak to a doctor got a call, a video call or a face to face appointment. This seemed to surprise some patients who thought the surgery might be shut due to the pandemic. Despite the heightened fear and anguish felt by many people, Riverside was always able to help. People that called in in the morning spoke to a doctor to determine what kind of help they needed and no one was turned away. Patients have been impressed with the responsiveness of the telephone and video consultation systems.”

Mr Watkins added that, with the new system freeing up time, patients with a greater need were able to see a doctor for 15-minute long face-to-face appointments. She said the pandemic meant that Riverside quickly got up to speed with new technologies to enable speedier appointment times and better communications between themselves and other healthcare professionals, to the benefit of patients.

Mrs Watkins said “Riverside’s COVID safety processes and the way they managed attending patients was reassuring. They moved and adapted very quickly to cope with the new situation the pandemic created. They were brave but careful, giving patients confidence. Many patients feel very well cared for and respected by all the medical and support staff and just want to say ‘thank you’.”

Dr Rashmi Sawnhey, GP Senior Partner at Riverside Surgery, noted that primary care has had to adapt quickly during the pandemic to continue to offer the best possible service to patients.

She said: “The success of this is due to our fantastic practice team (both clinical and non-clinical) and our patients who have been very understanding and patient. Technology has been very helpful in supporting these changes.

“We are very mindful that all patients don’t have access to smart phones and patients with complex medical problems, especially the frail elderly, need face-to-face reviews. During this time we have continued to offer face-to-face appointments after triage, as well as home visits for the housebound as appropriate.”

Riverside’s nursing teams have also been supporting district nurses to care for housebound and shielding patients. Dr Sawhney added that patient feedback has been essential to evaluate the success of these changes and to work to improve the service further.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group added his congratulations to the surgery. He said: “It’s always gratifying to hear that the hard work of our GP practices is being appreciated by patients and I would like to thank Riverside Surgery for their superb efforts in these extremely challenging times.

“I would also like to also extend my thanks to all the GP practices in Buckinghamshire who have worked so hard to serve their patients during this pandemic.”

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COVID-19 vaccine

What’s happening with the first approved vaccine?

Following extensive trials, the first safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 has been approved by regulators and is now available.

At first, the vaccine will be offered to people who are most at risk from coronavirus, specifically the over-80s, care home residents and health and care staff, before being offered more widely. As you can imagine this will be a long process and you will be contacted when it’s your turn, so please don’t call your GP.

What’s happening from 7 December?

The first stage of roll-out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be managed via a limited number of hospital hubs. In our local region the the first hospital to offer vaccines is Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. More sites will follow and we will keep you informed here.

Is the vaccine safe?

The vaccine has met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.

Take a look on the Gov.UK or NHS websites for the most up to date information.

Useful leaflets and information

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Buckinghamshire exceeds flu vaccination target for people aged 65+

Buckinghamshire has already exceeded its target number for people aged 65-and-over to get their flu vaccination this year – and there is still time for others to get their jab to help them stay safe this winter.

So far 76.5% of the 65-and-over age group have been vaccinated across Buckinghamshire, exceeding the 75% target set by Public Health England. This means that around 82, 750 individuals in this age group has had a flu jab – and there is still time for more to join them.

People are being reminded that it is not ‘just’ the flu but is instead a serious illness that can cause severe complications. With flu and COVID both circulating this winter, it’s more important than ever that people are vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, friends and colleagues, and the NHS. Studies have shown that there can be very serious health consequences if people have both flu and COVID at the same time.

The flu vaccination programme is continuing throughout December and into the new year. If you are aged 65-and-over or are a pregnant woman and have not had your free jab yet, please contact your GP surgery as soon as possible. Children aged from 2-11 are also eligible for a flu vaccination, those children not of school age will be invited by their GP. Over 18, 000 flu vaccinations were carried out in schools in November alone.

This year, people aged 50-64 are also eligible for a free flu vaccination – please wait for an invitation from your GP practice to arrange this. Vaccinations are all being organised in safe and COVID-secure ways.

Caroline Capell, Director of Urgent and Emergency Care for Buckinghamshire Integrated Care Partnership, said: “It’s great news that our 65 year old and over programme has already exceeded its 75% target and I’d like to thank all those who have worked incredibly hard to make this happen in such challenging circumstances, in particular staff in GP practices, pharmacies and school immunisation teams
“If you haven’t been vaccinated against the flu yet this year and are eligible for a free jab, there is still time – appointments will continue throughout winter and are being scheduled by practices and pharmacies. Your GP will contact you to remind you to book – including people aged 50-64 this year – and we are grateful for your patience as new stocks arrive.”

Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health at Buckinghamshire Council, said: “It is more important than ever for people over 65 to get a flu vaccination this year, especially as those with co-infection of COVID-19 and flu are more at risk of severe illness. The COVID-19 vaccine may also be on the way, but it will take time to roll it out to all those who need it. It is vital that in the meantime we still take all the precautions we can to stay safe ourselves, and to make sure our families and loved ones are protected.
“If you are eligible to have a free flu vaccine this winter, please do get one.”

To find out more about the flu jab and who is eligible for a free flu vaccination, please go to: www.nhs.uk/flujab