Welcome to my monthly blog for February. Thankfully we move a bit closer to brighter days, but there’s still a good deal of wintry weather in store for us this month according to the reports, so wrap up.
For the week ending 5 February 2022 the borough’s infection rate was 472 cases per 100,000, down from 727 the previous week. This is the second lowest in Greater Manchester and now one of the lowest in the country.
The national Plan B restrictions ended in England on Thursday January 27, which means that wearing face coverings is no longer mandatory in indoor venues or on public transport. However, local agencies continue to recommend their use, including in schools, if circumstances show they would be of benefit. As previously advised, we will be recommending that our residents and staff continue to wear face coverings and exercise caution while case numbers are so high.
Despite face coverings no longer being mandatory it is suggested that people still wear them in crowded and enclosed spaces; and it is still a legal requirement for those with covid to self-isolate for ten days with the option to end self-isolation after five full days following two negative lateral flow tests.
Our local vaccination programme continues, with walk in clinics across the borough continuing to be arranged throughout February . The offer for eligible residents to have a first, second or booster doses remains firmly in place. In addition to other locations, vaccinations are now available without an appointment at the ASDA superstore in Rochdale town centre and Bowness pharmacy in Bowness Road, Middleton. As ever, details of all walk-in clinics can be found on the Council website here – http://www.rochdale.gov.uk/health-and-wellbeing/coronavirus/Pages/covid-vaccination-clinics.aspx
Other themes that we are promoting this month include the importance of children receiving their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab. Frighteningly one in 10 children in the UK is not vaccinated against MMR meaning that this cohort is at risk from these potentially dangerous diseases. If your child is not up to date with their immunisations, contact your GP practice straight away and check out the important information at – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine/
Protecting the health of our children is the also the purpose for us promoting the healthy start voucher scheme. This scheme is aimed at helping eligible families to buy healthy food and milk for their children. This scheme is open to anyone who is at least 10 weeks pregnant or if you have at least one child under the age of four with the addition of receiving one of a range of benefits. Full details on the eligibility criteria and how to apply for the help is available at www.healthystart.nhs.uk
Protecting our mental health is every bit as important as protecting our physical health and that’s why we continue to promote help that is available to people who may be experiencing anxiety, low mood and generally feeling down. By encouraging people to consider their own triggers and remedies especially at work, it can be possible to prevent people’s mental health from deteoriorating and this is the aim of the mind plan which encourages people to consider an action plan to keep themselves mentally healthy. There is a lot more information about this online at https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/guide-to-wellness-action-plans-employees/
As you may have seen locally, Rochdale has been chosen as one of several places within Greater Manchester to take part in the Galleri trial – a revolutionary new blood test which has the potential to spot cancers long before symptoms appear. This is an exciting development which has the potential to save many lives and we are delighted that Rochdale has been selected to take part.
Finally, as ever there are various opportunities to interact with us at one of our statutory meetings and ask us any questions you may have about local healthcare. Our Primary Care Commissioning Committee is taking place on Friday 11th March 2022 at 11.30am, you can find out more on our website one week before the meeting: www.hmr.nhs.uk