Welcome to my monthly blog for March. Spring will be with us later this month and we are looking forward to some warmer weather and hopefully the sun making an appearance to give us all some very much needed Vitamin D!
I start this month’s blog with great sadness whilst watching the news and learning of the unfolding events in Ukraine. In uncertain times, it is common to feel unsettled and for some people, who either have relatives or friends in Ukraine or Russia, this news will bring with it very mixed emotions and feelings. We are thinking of everyone affected by the current situation, especially those in healthcare teams in and around the Ukraine who will be trying so hard to care for their people in the most difficult of circumstances.
Last week I attended the vigil on Lviv bridge in Rochdale. Members of Rochdale’s Ukrainian community joined councillors and colleagues at the bridge in the town centre in solidarity and support for Ukraine. These are distressing times and I am sure we all stand together in hoping for a peaceful resolution. I know colleagues in the NHS will all be supportive to each other and also how important it is that we all look after ourselves and each other.
For the week ending 26 February 2022 the boroughs infection rate was 140 cases per 100,000. This remains relatively low in Greater Manchester compared to the England average. Unfortunately, cases of covid in hospital have also stuck at a relatively high rate and there are covid patients still receiving treatment in high dependency wards.
Walk-in clinics for anyone over 12 are continuing throughout March and all the details are still available to view on the Rochdale Council website here – http://www.rochdale.gov.uk/health-and-wellbeing/coronavirus/Pages/covid-vaccination-clinics.aspx
Vaccination activity through GP practices will reduce from April onwards, as GPs return more fully to their non-vaccination primary care activity.
We are urging patients with learning disabilities to come forward for their free annual health check, anyone with a learning disability aged 14 and above who is on their GP’s learning disability register is entitled to a free health check once a year. We know that annual health checks can significantly improve the health outcomes of people with learning disabilities and our aim is to make sure that all people in our borough with a learning disability have a health check every year and we would encourage anyone who hasn’t yet had one to contact their GP surgery to book in as soon as possible. You can find out more here: https://www.hmr.nhs.uk/free-health-checks-for-patients-with-learning-disabilities/
We are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement who have launched a campaign raising awareness of heart attack symptoms as part of the latest ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign. The campaign aims to encourage everybody to recognise the potential signs of a heart attack, so if you or somebody you’re with experiences any symptoms, you know how to access help as quickly as possible. The early signs of a heart attack can vary, the most common include squeezing across the chest and a feeling of unease.
It can be easy to dismiss the early signs of a heart attack but it’s never too early to call 999 and describe your symptoms. The faster you act, the better the chance of a positive outcome. More information on this campaign can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2022/02/nhs-launches-lifesaving-campaign-to-tackle-heart-attack-myths/
In February, the Department of Health and Social Care, together with NHS England and NHS Improvement, launched a Help Us Help You – Cervical Screening Campaign, to highlight the benefits of cervical screening and remind people that that it can help stop cancer before it starts. The campaign encourages those eligible for screening – women and people with a cervix aged 25-64 – to respond to their cervical screening invitation letters and to book an appointment at their GP practice if they missed their last one.
Two women die every day from cervical cancer in England. Yet it is one of the most preventable cancers and getting screened can help stop it before it starts. Screening checks for certain types of the HPV virus that can cause cell changes to your cervix. Cell changes are easily treated and this prevents cervical cancer.
For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalscreening
Earlier this month, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership launched a new campaign to improve mental wellbeing and raise awareness of self-harm in older people. Recent research shows that older people who self-harm are at 67 times greater risk of suicide than the general older population and almost three times greater than the relative risk of suicide among younger people who self-harm. The new campaign ‘Don’t Brush It Under the Carpet’ aims to reach and support older residents who may be feeling depressed and alone and guide them to the right support for them. The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the issue of self-harm and older people, amongst carers, family members and health professionals to enable them to support residents who may be struggling. You can find out more about the campaign on the Shining a light on suicide website: https://shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk/olderpeople/
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 here: https://www.hmr.nhs.uk/meetings/primary-care-commissioning-committee/pccc-17-18-and-18-19-papers-ratified-mins-public-questions-and-responses/primary-care-commissioning-committee-meeting-friday-11-march-2022/ Following this meeting our Governing Body meeting takes place on Friday 18 March 2022 at 9.30am and you can find out more here: https://www.hmr.nhs.uk/meetings/governing-body/gb-17-18-and-18-19-papers-ratified-mins-public-questions-and-responses/governing-body-18-march-2022/ Both meetings will be livestreamed to the CCG YouTube channel which you can view here: www.youtube.com/NHSHMRCCG
This month we say goodbye to two long serving NHS CCG colleagues. First to retire later this month is Dr Keith Pearson, Head of Medicines Optimisation. Keith has been a very valued member of the team and has worked in medicines related services and closely with GP practices for many years. We would like to thank Keith for all his help and support over the years, we are very sorry to see him go and wish him all the very best as he embarks on a new adventure in the West Midlands.
Finally, this month we also say a sad farewell to Karen Hurley, Director of Operations. Karen will be retiring this month after 37 years of NHS service. Karen initially planned to retire back in 2021, but instead took flexible retirement to assist the work being undertaken by staff to support the pandemic, the transition of staff to the Greater Manchester ICB and the closedown of CCGs. Myself The CCG Board are extremely grateful to Karen for continuing in this role.
Karen’s career has spanned a wide breadth of services including Acute, Community, Learning Disabilities, Mental Health, Commissioning and Provider Services, the majority of which have been within Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale. Karen’s leadership and passion has been instrumental in the success of the CCG and I would like to personally thank Karen for her hard work and dedication over the years. Karen is a very valued and respected member of the CCG team and will be sorely missed. Karen leaves to start the next chapter of her life with her family and is delighted to be welcoming her first grandchild later this year. I’m sure that Karen will manage to fit in a few holidays and will be delighted that work will no longer get in the way of her holiday hobby! Thanks Karen, we wish you all the very best for the future.