All posts by Neil Phillips

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Take part in the final Governing Bodies meetings in common – 9 June 2022

Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West CCGs Governing Bodies meetings in common is being held on Thursday 9 June 2022 (1.30pm-3.30pm).

The meetings in common will be held virtually via a videolink, (MS teams) but members of the public are welcome to join online and are encouraged to submit questions in advance linked to items on the agenda.

The Governing Bodies meetings in common will have an overview of performance of local health services and end of year finance reporting. They will also review the arrangement for the safe transfer of CCG staff and functions to the Integrated Care Board from 1 July 2022.

For information on how to join the Governing Bodies meetings in common on 9 June and to see the papers being presented please click here.

Questions for the Governing Bodies meetings in common can be submitted up to 9am on Tuesday 7 June to bwccg.enquiries@nhs.net. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions at the meetings in common linked to the agenda items.

Please note: This is the final Governing Bodies meetings in common before the three CCGs are replaced by the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board from 1 July 2022.

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COVID vaccinations still available for children aged 5-11 through spring and summer

Parents and carers across Buckinghamshire are being reminded that there are still plenty of opportunities for your children to get their COVID vaccination as we head into the summer.

A number of Family Centres and libraries are all holding clinics at various times for children aged 5-11, through to the end of August. This is in addition to the Guttmann Centre in Stoke Mandeville, which continues to offer vaccinations to the 5-11 age group as well as all others.

This means that, by arranging a first jab as soon as possible, you will also be able to arrange a second vaccination 12 weeks later at the same centre.

The jabs are taking place in a caring, safe and child-friendly environment. Staff and clinicians who are working at these sites are used to dealing with children and are reassuring and patient. They can also answer any questions parents and carers may have about the vaccinations too.

You can book both appointments for a vaccination online – Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination – NHS (www.nhs.uk) or by calling 119

In addition, parents can speak directly to the paediatric team if they have any concerns, or want to discuss making a booking – for Buckinghamshire, this number is 07826 922104

Vaccination clinics available for the 5-11 age group in Bucks include:

The Guttmann Centre in Stoke Mandeville is also available for both walk-in vaccinations and booked appointments, and it is open every day, 8am-8pm. And all age groups can be vaccinated here.

Most appointments for 5-11 age group will be available outside of school hours and over the weekend, and are available to book through the online booking service or by calling 119.

And remember, if you are taking a child for their vaccination at a library, there may be other family friendly events to enjoy at the same time, too. And even if not, it is the perfect opportunity to choose some suitable summer reading for them from the bookshelves.

There are also plenty of activity sessions available at the Family Information Service – you can find out more and view activity timetables at Family centres | Family Information Service (buckinghamshire.gov.uk) or Find a library | Buckinghamshire Council

The NHS has made the vaccine available for all 5 to 11s following updated JCVI guidance, which recommended all children would benefit from a non-urgent offer of the vaccine, with almost five million now eligible.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chair at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Vaccination is the best defence against COVID-19 and NHS teams are ready to welcome parents and children to the vaccination centres and clinics, where vaccinations will be administered by specially trained and qualified staff in a child friendly environment.

“If you have not already done so, please consider the benefits of arranging a vaccination for your children – there is a lot of NHS information available for you to make a well-informed choice.”

You can find out more information about COVID vaccinations for 5-11 year olds here: COVID-19: A guide for parents of children aged 5 to 11 (publishing.service.gov.uk)

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Community pharmacist who set up Marlow COVID Vaccination Centre among those celebrated by Prince of Wales

Olivier Picard, pictured 3rd from left, speaks to Prince Charles at an event to mark the centenary of the National Pharmacy Association

A Community Pharmacist who set up a COVID vaccination clinic in Marlow, working tirelessly with his team to deliver tens of thousands of jabs to the public, was among those honoured by the Prince of Wales at a special celebratory event.

Prince Charles thanked community pharmacy teams across the nation for their ‘marvellous’ efforts in providing patients with essential support during the pandemic. The reception event was hosted at St James’ Palace earlier this month, to mark the recent centenary of the National Pharmacy Association.

The first Community Pharmacist guest to speak to the Prince at the event was Olivier Picard, who established the Marlow COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic based at Globe Park in January 2021. Over the next 12 months, Olivier and his team of around 100 vaccinators and 400 volunteers worked tirelessly to vaccinate as many people in the community as possible.

Prince Charles also paid tribute to the great work done by community pharmacists outside of the COVID pandemic at the reception event, commending their “friendly and reassuring presence in our communities.”

He told attendees: “I very much hope that this evening’s event will help, a little bit, to highlight the marvellous work you do in your communities day in and day out.”

The Prince added that the diversity among the profession’s workforce was “inspiring” and spoke of how thousands of individual stories about immigration into the United Kingdom were woven into the history of the community pharmacy, and what a positive impact this has had.

Olivier, who manages Newdays Pharmacy, a small group of independent pharmacies based in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, said: “This was a very humbling experience, and one I will never forget. I came to the UK as an economic migrant 22 years ago with a small bag over my shoulders. I have built a business through hard work, long hours and have met incredibly supportive people along the way.

“The recognition given to the Community Pharmacy profession by Prince Charles over the course of the evening is among the proudest achievements of my professional career. It was a privilege to be among so many incredible pharmacist colleagues on the night, who have been delivering outstanding service in their communities for decades. They have all especially stepped up over the last two years, as have so many dedicated healthcare professionals and volunteers, working long hours to deliver millions of COVID vaccinations and save thousands of lives.”

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Thanks a million to the Oxford Health COVID vaccination team

The COVID vaccination team from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has celebrated its million-jab milestone, having given vaccine doses to patients across a range of locations in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire over the last 15 months.

Their work began when a vaccination centre was set up at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford on February 1, 2021.

Shortly after, the team set up new centres in Aylesbury – first at the Bucks New University site in town and then later at the Guttmann Centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium. They set another large-scale vaccination centre in Reading, launched pop-up centres in Witney, Bulmershe, Hungerford, Banbury and Reading City Centre. The team visited communities across the region in the Health on the Move bus, making frequent stops all over Bucks since last summer, and even delivered jabs at the 2021 Reading Festival.

These centres and clinics ran alongside the many vaccination sites operated by GPs and pharmacists across Buckinghamshire.

The Oxford Health vaccination team includes vaccinators, doctors, pharmacy technicians, administrators, marshals and volunteers. More than 1,600 colleagues have helped vaccinate people aged from 5 to over 100 years old with Astra Zeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccineshelping enormously in the fight against COVID-19. They were presented with special pin-badges to commemorate the major milestone.

Nick Broughton, Oxford Health’s Chief Executive, said: “The efforts of everyone involved in Oxford Health’s vaccination programme can’t be understated – getting to one million jabs is an enormous achievement and I want to thank each and every person who has played their part.

“To think where we were before February 2021 to where we are now with an experienced team and slick vaccination process is quite amazing. Everyone stepped up from day one whether their job was to find places to set up the vaccine centres, installing the equipment, giving the vaccines or doing all the administration the commitment and hard work has been nothing short of amazing.”

The team continues to welcome people for first, second and booster jabs and remains ready to vaccinate new cohorts as government announcements require.

The Oxford Health vaccination centres now offer walk-in opportunities as well as booked appointments, meaning that anyone can get the jabs they need at a time to suit them. You can book an appointment online here.

And a number of other COVID vaccination options are still available across Buckinghamshire, with clinics running at these family centres and libraries:

There is also a helpline for people to book their vaccination locally – call 07826 922104, from 8.30am – 7pm daily.

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Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission local area Special Educational Needs and Disabilities inspection – the results

Between 28 February and 11 March 2022, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted their first inspection of the services and support provided across Education, Health and Care in Buckinghamshire for children and young people with SEND.

The report published today, 29 April 2022, identifies strengths and areas for development across the local area.

During the inspection, inspectors evaluated how effectively we:

  • identify the needs of children and young people with SEND
  • assess and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND
  • ensure positive outcomes for children and young people with SEND

The inspectors visited seven education settings covering all ages and received feedback from over 1,000 parents and carers. They met with children and young people of all abilities in education settings and focus groups. They spoke to a wide range of professionals across health, education and social care, reviewed a number of children’s Education, Health and Care Plans and received over 150 documents and supporting evidence.

Cabinet Member for Buckinghamshire Council’s Children’s Services, Councillor Anita Cranmer said:

“Children’s Services are firmly at the heart of the new unitary Buckinghamshire Council and in recent years SEND has become an increasingly prominent priority for us and there is now a considerable amount of co-ordinated activity taking place. We are pleased that the inspectors recognised the following areas of strength:

  • In Bucks we have a clear local area SEND Strategy and strong leadership that prioritises services for children and young people with SEND.
  • Our youth engagement is strong.
  • There is effective joint commissioning of services with health colleagues.
  • We have a good track record of identification of SEND across Early Years settings and children are well prepared for school.
  • Statutory assessments and Education, Health and Care plans are more timely and have improved in quality.
  • Virtual schools for Looked After Children (LAC) have been expanded so more pupils can benefit.
  • Interventions for children with Social, Emotional, and Mental Health needs are extensive. There is good access to health visitors’/health checks and Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services. School nurses deliver a helpful school readiness programme.
  • In Bucks we have strong education, good academic outcomes and low exclusions. There is a successful use of internship programmes contributing to positive employment, engagement and training figures.”

Councillor Cranmer added:

“However, we do know that for too many children, young people and their families, we do still fall short of what they deserve and I want to reassure them that we are not shying away from the crucial areas where sometimes much improvement is still required. Areas we know we need to improve on are:

  • The identification and meeting of the needs of those in receipt of SEND support.
  • The Annual Reviews and ensuring the social participation needs of children and young people are integrated into Education, Health and Care Plans.
  • Recruiting and retaining staff to ensure effective and consistent communication with families.
  • Improving how we involve families, working collaboratively with them to meet the needs of their children.
  • Developing a more coherent approach to Preparation for Adulthood, including increased options at post 19.

We are looking forward to working with our colleagues in Health to improve the services we provide to children with SEND.”

Dr Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chair for NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is an essential part of our work across the Buckinghamshire health and care system and a priority for the CCG.

“We welcome the inspectors’ findings and while we are pleased to see the areas of strength they have identified, we recognise we have significant work to do to deliver the level of service our young people deserve. Along with our local partners in health, social care and education, we are committed to addressing the priority areas raised by inspectors and continuing to improve the waiting times and quality of our care for young people and their families.”

What happens next?

  • The Council and NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group are in the process of developing the Written Statement of Action in response to the inspection findings. This action plan must be submitted to Ofsted by 8 August 2022.
  • The Children’s Services Continuous Improvement Board will oversee the Written Statement of Action, providing appropriate external challenge and rigour to drive improvement at pace and scale.
  • Monitoring arrangements are being confirmed with the Department for Education, which will meet with us every 4-6 months to assess and support our progress.
  • We will maintain our Quality Assurance work and improvement programme activity, overseen by the SEND Integrated Services Board.
  • We will continue with our recruitment and retention plans.

The full Ofsted/CQC inspection letter/ report can be found by clicking here.

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May Bank Holiday pharmacy opening times for Buckinghamshire

Please click here for details of which pharmacies will be open, and their operating hours, across the NHS Buckinghamshire CCG area over the May Bank Holiday weekend (Monday, 2 May).

Where possible, please also plan ahead to make sure you get any repeat prescriptions ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.

If you do go to a pharmacy, please follow the social distancing guidelines and any other measures that are being taken to protect both you and any members of staff.

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

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

Please note – pharmacy opening hours on Bank Holidays are voluntary and are, therefore, subject to change. Patients are advised to check if pharmacies are open by telephone before making a journey.

Local pharmacy details can be found at www.nhs.uk under ‘NHS Services’.

If you are still not sure what health service option to use, and it is not an emergency, you can go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111 for advice.

You can also view details of pharmacy opening times for Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

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Help us help you this Bank Holiday weekend

This Easter, Buckinghamshire’s health and care services will be working hard to make sure you stay safe and well – and you can help them by making sure you are prepared for the bank holiday weekend and by using the right service at the right time.

With COVID-19 still spreading and causing disruption to health and care services, we are providing information on where you will you get the most appropriate care should you need  help this weekend.

If you are not sure what health service option to use, and it is not an emergency, go to 111.nhs.uk for advice and support. Due to high levels of demand, the 111 telephone service is currently extremely busy and is expected to remain so over the weekend. Please use the online option where possible.

Please also make sure you have all the medicines you may require ahead of the Easter break. Whether it is everyday medication like paracetamol or cough remedies, or getting your prescription filled. It is also worth making sure you have any other items you might need in hand – for instance, plasters, other treatments or contraceptives.

If you do need to access a pharmacy this weekend, please be aware that many will be operating reduced hours. Local pharmacy details can be found via the NHS ‘Find a pharmacy’ service or on the Buckinghamshire CCG website.

If it is a serious or life-threatening emergency, please do not delay – call 999 or go to A&E if you can safely do so.

People in Buckinghamshire are also being urged to support their loved ones to leave hospital and come home in time for Easter if they can. Some patients no longer need hospital medical care but cannot return to their own home to continue their recovery without having some additional support for things like washing, dressing, shopping, cooking and cleaning. Not having this support delays their return home and leads to a shortage of beds for those in urgent need of hospital treatment. By supporting them you will be helping both your loved one and anyone else in need of emergency care.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “By making sure you use the right service at the right time you will help to ease pressure on your health services to make sure the people who need treatment most urgently get it sooner. It may also help you to avoid needless waiting times or travelling to use a service that may not the right one. So, please choose your services well this Easter. By working together, we can help to keep each other safe and well.”

Karen Bonner, Chief Nurse for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said, “No one wants to spend longer in hospital than they need to and once people are over their initial medical emergency we know that our patients recover faster if they are in their own homes in a more comfortable and familiar setting. If you have a relative or loved one in hospital who is well enough to go home, but is waiting to be discharged with home care and community health support, you may be able to help them to get home more quickly. If you and your family are in a position to support a loved one at home over the Easter break please speak to the ward manager or nurse in charge if this is something you can help with.”

The health and care options available in Bucks include:

  • A&E – remember, A&E should be used for serious and life-threatening conditions. If it is not an emergency, or you are not sure, please check with the NHS 111 service first. But if it is, don’t delay – call 999.
  • The 111 online service at 111.nhs.uk is a great source of information and advice, especially if you are not sure which service to use for your illness or injury.
  • The Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) in High Wycombe is accessible from 8am – 8pm via 111.
  • Pharmacies are staffed by healthcare professionals and offer excellent advice. At the first sign of illness, check to see if an over-the-counter treatment or medicine is suitable. Don’t wait until you are really unwell.
  • Contact your GP surgery for an appointment – this will probably be over the telephone or remotely at the moment, but your GP can still invite you for a face-to-face appointment when they think it is medically appropriate. And if you are concerned about possible cancer symptoms, don’t delay – contact your GP today.
  • Self-care – many minor injuries or ailments can be treated at home, with medicines or treatments you may already have. Make sure you keep some of these in stock.

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Vaccinations available for all 5 -11 year olds

All children aged 5 – 11 are now able to get a vaccination against COVID-19.

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that 5 -11 year-olds are offered paediatric (child) doses of the vaccine, which has been approved by the UK’s medicines regulator, to boost immunity and increase their protection against any future waves of COVID-19.

Children aged 5-11 with no other underlying health conditions will be offered two paediatric doses of the vaccine, at least 12 weeks apart.

The NHS wants to support families to make an informed choice and there is a comprehensive information leaflet available on the Government website.

Parents and guardians can go online https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/  or call 119 to book an appointment from Monday 4 April at:

  • The Guttman Centre, Stoke Mandeville
  • Kassam Stadium, Oxford
  • Broad Street Mall, Reading

To make things convenient and child-friendly for families who decide to have their children vaccinated, appointments at several other Buckinghamshire sites (including children and family centres and pharmacies) will be available for booking online or by calling 119 from Thursday, 7 April. Please keep checking the national booking system.

These vaccination clinics will be in:

  • Amersham
  • Buckingham
  • High Wycombe
  • Wing

Dr Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chair at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The COVID-19 vaccine is already making a big difference to help protect us all. The vaccine does not remove the virus, but research and experience in countries around the world shows it can prevent the worst effects of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of infection to your child and those around them.”

If a child has had COVID-19 they will still get extra protection from the vaccine, but they will need to wait 12 weeks before getting vaccinated.

If parents or guardians do not know the child’s NHS number they can get it:

  • by checking the child’s personal health record (the red book given to the family when the child was born)
  • by checking any NHS letters, prescriptions or test results received for the child
  • by going to the NHS.UK website
  • by asking your GP practice to help you

Those 5-11 year-olds who are more at risk from the virus can already get two paediatric doses, eight weeks apart, and their GP or hospital specialist should be in touch to arrange this.

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Pharmacy opening times for the 2022 Easter Bank Holiday weekend

Please click here for details of which pharmacies will be open, and their operating hours, across the NHS Buckinghamshire CCG area over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend (Good Friday, 15 April – Easter Monday, 18 April).

Where possible, please also plan ahead to make sure you get any repeat prescriptions ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.

If you do go to a pharmacy, please follow the social distancing guidelines and any other measures that are being taken to protect both you and any members of staff.

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

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

Please note – pharmacy opening hours on Bank Holidays are voluntary and are, therefore, subject to change. Patients are advised to check if pharmacies are open by telephone before making a journey.

Local pharmacy details can be found at www.nhs.uk under ‘NHS Services’.

If you are still not sure what health service option to use, and it is not an emergency, you can go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111 for advice.

You can also view details of pharmacy opening times for Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

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COVID vaccinations available for vulnerable children aged 5-11

Children aged 5 to 11 who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed in Buckinghamshire can have the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Eligible children include those with diabetes, learning disabilities, chronic heart and respiratory conditions and those who are immunosuppressed*.

Specially trained nurses are delivering vaccinations at the Guttmann vaccination centre in Stoke Mandeville via booked appointments which are available Monday to Friday and Saturday and Sunday (9.30am to 7pm).

Parents and guardians can book appointments for their children at the Guttmann Centre by calling 07826-922121 – lines are open from 8.30am-7.30pm daily, including weekends.

Calls will be answered by a qualified nurse who will ensure parents have all the information they need and who can answer any questions or concerns in advance of an appointment – if people leave a message these will be returned promptly.

If a child has recently tested positive for COVID-19 a future appointment date will be offered.

All eligible 5-11 year-olds will be offered the Pfizer vaccine as part of their first vaccination. Parents/guardians can book a second dose of the vaccine for their vulnerable child either at the first dose appointment or by calling 07826- 922121.

However, a second dose can only be given 8 weeks after a child has received their first COVID-19 vaccination.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group  said: “We know vaccines give significant protection against severe illness from COVID-19 including the omicron variant, so it is important that our youngest and most at-risk get protected.

“I encourage as many parents and guardians as possible to make sure they book an appointment for their vulnerable child – the paediatric vaccine will offer the best possible protection for them.

“The vaccine is also recommended for those children living with people who have a weakened immune system as it will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to these family members.”

  • *For a full list of clinical and other risk groups visit the UK Health Security Agency green book (chapter 14a) see here 
  • The Gov.UK website provides more information and advice for parents about the COVID-19 vaccination for this vulnerable age group see here

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Overseas vaccination service

A new service is available for Buckinghamshire residents to help anyone who may have got a COVID-19 vaccination dose overseas ensure their health records are kept correctly up to date.

If you had a dose in another country, this information may not currently be logged on your NHS records. However, this new service will allow you to book an appointment to show evidence for any COVID-19 vaccinations you may have had outside of England.

The NHS can then securely update your vaccination record and ensure your information is correct. People using this service can also be offered a suitable vaccination on-site if they are due to have one.

This service is operated locally by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs several of the large-scale vaccination sites in the region, including The Guttmann Centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium. It is available to anyone aged 16 and over with an NHS number, and who has received one of the following vaccines outside of England:

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
  • Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  • Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
  • Moderna (Spikevax)
  • Institute of India (Covishield)
  • Bharat Biotech (Covaxin)
  • SinoVac (CoronaVac)
  • Beijing Institute of Biological Products (Sinopharm BIBP)

You can book an appointment, and get more details, by clicking here.

Please be aware: someone else can book on another’s behalf, but the patient must attend the appointment with the relevant form of identification and evidence of any vaccination doses they have received.

Joanna Crawley, Oxford Health’s Mass Vaccination Centres Senior Clinical Lead, said: “This is a really useful service that will help any residents in Buckinghamshire be confident that their vaccination record is up to date and that NHS staff will have all the correct information at hand for any future treatment. It is simple to use, so please do arrange an appointment if you have had any of your vaccine doses overseas.

“And if you still have not had your booster vaccination, or your first or second dose, you can still arrange one by using the National Booking Service, or attending our walk-in mass vaccination site at the Guttmann Centre in Stoke Mandeville.”

For information about who is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster or vaccination, please click here.

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If you live with a serious mental illness, get a physical health check with your GP

Staying healthy and well is important to us all, but it can be especially challenging for people who may be living with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or any psychotic illness.

They may be at greater risk of serious physical health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or strokes. These can have a huge impact on quality of life and may even shorten it, particularly if they are not picked up in good time.

But the good news is, it is easy for people living with serious mental illness to arrange an annual physical health check with their GP Practice. These checks can help people stay healthy and identify early warning signs of any developing health concerns. Earlier treatment can then be offered. By staying physically healthy, this can also have a positive effect on our general mental health. The physical health check will measure height, weight, blood pressure and checks for diabetes or high cholesterol.

Arranging a health check is simple – just contact your GP practice for more information and advice. If you are anxious about seeing a doctor or nurse, please let your GP practice know when you arrange the appointment so they can support you with your concerns.

And if you care for someone – a loved one or family member – who lives with serious mental illness, please encourage them to arrange a health check too.

Dr Sian Roberts, Clinical Director for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities for NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “People who live with a serious mental illness can sometimes overlook their own physical health and poor physical health may result in a shorter life expectancy. The good news is that physical illness can often be prevented once early signs are detected.  Please contact your GP practice to arrange an annual physical health check to ensure that problems are treated early. “

Buckinghamshire Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Angela Macpherson, said: “If you live with a serious mental illness and are eligible for an annual physical health check, please do arrange one – and if a loved one or someone you care for is in that position, please encourage them to contact their GP practice. None of us should take our health for granted and the sooner a professional can identify any health concerns you may have, the sooner you can get the support you need.”

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Storm Eunice: Vaccination sites and Health on the Move van to shut on Friday, 18 Feb

Oxford Health’s COVID-19 vaccination centres at The Guttmann Centre in Stoke Mandeville, Kassam Stadium in Oxford and Broad Street Mall in Reading will be closed this Friday, 18 February as a safety precaution.

The Met Office has issued Red and Amber weather warnings due to extremely strong winds of between 70 and 80mph, expected when Storm Eunice hits our region between 5am and 9pm on Friday, 18 February.

The Health on the Move vaccination van scheduled to attend Dukes Wood Tennis Club/ Gerrards Cross Cricket Club in Gerrards Cross on Friday, 18 February, will also not be operating for the same reason.

The safety of members of the public and staff at the centres is paramount. Any appointments will be rebooked and normal opening hours at the vaccination sites are expected to resume on Saturday.

For further updates, please go to https://www.buckinghamshireccg.nhs.uk/public/your-services/feeling-unwell/covid-19-vaccination-programme/local-covid-19-vaccination-updates/

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12-15 year olds encouraged to complete COVID vaccine dosage this half term

Ensuring children and young people age 12-15 get both doses of their COVID vaccine is an important priority for the NHS.

Not only will this help to keep young people healthy and well, making them less likely to miss school, but it will also help protect family members, reducing the spread to loved ones – some of whom may be clinically vulnerable to COVID.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, reminds us: “Most young people experience mild symptoms after a COVID infection, or have no symptoms at all, passing on the virus without knowing.

“As ever, this is a real risk for people who might get really sick because they have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable.  There is also evidence that younger people can experience Long COVID, which causes more health issues and takes longer to recover from.

“The latest data shows infection rates in this age group remain high, so helping stop the spread is key to us all staying well this half term.”

Since October 2021, the School Immunisation Team in Bucks have been vaccinating children aged 12 to 15 in local schools through the existing service that provides other vaccines, such as flu.

For most healthy 12-15 year olds, the 2 doses are given a minimum of 12 weeks apart. So, if your child had their first jab in November, they are likely to get the next at another visit to their school in February.

The School Immunisation Team will continue these visits throughout the first part of this year and parents may receive notification in advance of this happening from schools.

However, for those children not in school during these vaccine visits or who have had COVID-19 and need to wait 12 weeks after symptoms started or after their positive test result, (a 4 week gap if they are assessed to be at high risk) there are other options:

Not every walk-in site can vaccinate 12-15 year olds, but the website shows which ones do, and more sites are added regularly.

For a small proportion of 12 to 15 year-olds, the options are different:

  • Those who are more at risk from the virus or who live with someone who has a severely weakened immune system can get their second dose eight weeks after their first, and a further ‘booster’ dose from three months (91 days) after their second.
  • Those who have had a severely weakened immune system can get a third primary dose from eight weeks after their second dose, then receive a booster from three months (91 days) later.

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Take part in the CCGs’ Governing Bodies meetings in common on Thursday, 13 January

Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West CCGs’ Governing Bodies meetings in common is being held on Thursday 13 January 2022 (1.30pm-3.30pm).

This replaces the 14 December 2021 meeting which was postponed to allow health staff to work on the NHS vaccination programme.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meetings in common will be held virtually via a videolink (MS teams), but members of the public are welcome to join online and are encouraged to submit questions in advance linked to items on the agenda (questions already submitted for the 14 December 2021 meeting will be included in the latest meeting).

The Governing Bodies meetings in common will hear an update about progress in patient care, an overview of performance of local health services and finances.

For information on how to join the Governing Bodies meetings in common on 13 January 2022 and to see the papers being presented, please click here.

Questions for the Governing Bodies meetings in common can be submitted up to 9am on Tuesday 11 January to bwccg.enquiries@nhs.net  There will also be an opportunity to ask questions at the meetings in common linked to the agenda items.

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Walk-in vaccinations resume at Stoke Mandeville’s Guttmann Centre

Walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations will resume at Oxford Health’s three vaccination centres in Oxford, Reading and Aylesbury from Monday, January 10.

This means anyone eligible – including 12-15 year olds – can get a jab at the following centres without the need for an appointment.

  • Guttmann Centre: Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Guttmann Road, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP21 9PP
  • Kassam Stadium, Littlemore, Oxford, OX4 6DE (*closed all day for Oxford United home weekend matches)
  • Broad Street Mall, Units 49-50, Reading, RG1 7QE

It is anticipated that this offer will be available between 9am and 7pm most days, but you are advised to check before setting out on your journey to your chosen centre.

Please visit the NHS Grab A Jab website here which is regularly updated with venues and opening times.

Please click here to view local updates on vaccinations in Buckinghamshire.

Walk in opportunities are available for:

Please note that masks must be worn while attending NHS sites.

If you have had a positive COVID-19 test you need to:

  • wait 4 weeks (28 days) if you’re aged 18 years old or over
  • wait 12 weeks (84 days) if you’re aged 12 to 17 years old
  • wait 4 weeks (28 days) if you’re aged 12 to 17 years and at increased risk of COVID 19/ are immunosupressed

The resumption of walk in opportunities at large vaccination centres operated by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, comes after a successful Christmas and New Year period which saw the sites administer thousands of booster shots.

Reconfiguring the sites, with the Kassam facility opening a second floor of vaccination booths coupled with the removal of the 15-minute post-jab waiting period, means more capacity at the centres.

Booking an appointment is still the best way to guarantee that you get your booster at a time that suits you, and you can do this by visiting the National Booking Service online.

Anita Sherwood, Oxford Health’s interim Covid Operations Director, said: “Getting your jabs and boosters is the best way to protect yourself against the effects of COVID-19. It is also the best way to protect your family and those around you – if you are yet to get your booster or your initial jabs please don’t hesitate.

“While booking your jab is the best way to ensure you get yours in a location and at a time that suits you, we appreciate that some people like the convenience of being able to decide on the day and simply turn up.

“The safe and efficient running of our vaccination centres is of paramount importance and there may be times when we have to close the walk-in queues if there is especially high demand and we would ask you to come back.”

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People in Buckinghamshire urged to book their COVID-19 booster jab as vaccination capacity ramps up

Buckinghamshire’s COVID vaccination programme continues to ramp up its capacity this week, following the Prime Minister’s pledge to ensure every adult is offered a booster vaccine by the end of December in response to the Omicron variant.

New appointments are becoming available on the National Booking Service every day throughout the county (or by calling 119 if you can’t get online), so please keep trying to arrange yours.

You can book a booster dose if you are aged 18 years and over, or 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19. Frontline health and social care workers should also get their booster jab as soon as possible too.

Pregnant women are also reminded that they should have the vaccine – whether it is the first, second or booster dose. Studies show that hospital admission and severe illness are more common in unvaccinated pregnant women (compared to those not pregnant). Pregnant women with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk of severe illness without vaccination.

Across the county vaccination capacity has increased by around 50% in recent days. These include the following vaccination sites in the locations listed below.

  • 15 Pharmacy Sites located across Chesham, Hughenden, Longridge, Buckingham, Wing, Iver, Haddenham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Wycombe, Amersham
  • 10 Local Vaccination Sites – Burnham, Wycombe, Amersham, Chesham, Risborough, Stoke Mandeville, Buckingham, Wing
  • 1 Mass Vaccination Site – The Guttmann Centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium
  • 2 Hospital Hub+ sites – these are now offering vaccines not only to health and social care staff, but to the public as well, at Stoke Mandeville and Amersham Hospitals.

Please note – appointments at any of these sites should be booked first, via the National Booking Service or by calling 119 if you can’t get online. Walk-in appointments are only available to people who are severely immunosuppressed at this time (anyone in that category should please take a note from their doctor or consultant when they go for their vaccination).

Opening times vary from site to site, but the earliest opens at 7am and the latest closes at 10pm, meaning there are more available timeslots than ever. All sites aim to operate, on average, 10-hour days.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The Omicron variant is very concerning – it is spreading quickly and two vaccine doses do not give us all the protection we need. The booster jab is estimated to restore your protection to around 75%. It is the best way to help to keep yourself, your family and your community safe. Appointments are now available for anyone aged 18 and over to get their jab, so please keep checking on the booking system as more become available every day.”

Anyone arranging a booster appointment is asked not to contact their GP to do this, and to cancel any bookings they no longer require or are unable to attend so that someone else can take that space.

You can use the National Booking Service (or call 119 if you can’t get online) to pre-book a booster dose of the vaccine if it’s been 2 months (61 days) since your second dose and you’re in one of these groups:

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Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West CCGs Primary Care Commissioning meetings in common postponed from 16 December

Due to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 12 December about the rapid expansion of the booster vaccine programme we are postponing the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West CCGs Primary Care Commissioning meetings in common on Thursday 16 December.

The main focus for the CCGs now to end of the month is to work to significantly expand local capacity to ensure we offer every adult the chance to book a covid-19 booster vaccine by the end of the year to help protect them and their family and community against the Omicron variant.

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Pharmacy opening times for Christmas and New Year 2021

Please click here for details of which pharmacies will be open, and their operating hours, across the NHS Buckinghamshire CCG area during the Christmas and New Year period.

As well as Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, these include details for the additional Bank Holidays on 27 and 28 December, and 3 January 2022.

Where possible, please also plan ahead to make sure you get any repeat prescriptions ahead of the Christmas break.

Please note – these details are correct at time of publishing, but are subject to change. You are advised to please contact the pharmacy before attending to ensure they are open and have the medication you require.

We would also ask that you please observe any COVID safety measure the pharmacy has in place on attending to help keep staff and visitors safe.

Local pharmacy details can be found at www.nhs.uk under ‘More Services’.

If you are still not sure what health service option to use, and it is not an emergency, call NHS 111 for advice.

You can also click on the links to find details of pharmacy opening times for Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

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This week’s Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West CCGs’ Governing Bodies meetings in common postponed

Due to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 12 December about the rapid expansion of the booster vaccine programme we are postponing the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West CCGs Governing Body meeting in common on Tuesday 14 December.

The main focus for the CCGs now to end of the month is to work to significantly expand local capacity to ensure we offer every adult the chance to book a COVID-19 booster vaccine by the end of the year to help protect them and their family and community against the Omicron variant.

The meeting will be postponed until late January / early February 2022. All papers are available here; none require a decision by the Governing Body in common. Questions relating to the papers can still be directed to bwccg.governingbodies@nhs.net up until 5pm on Wednesday 15 December 2021.  All questions and answers will be responded to and published on the website.