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Beating the heat in Sefton

Person in sunglasses and sunhatNHS and council leaders in Sefton are advising residents to keep cool this summer, by planning ahead and taking precautions to ‘beat the heat’ while enjoying the sunshine.

With warmer weather forecast across the UK, healthcare professionals are reminding everyone to be aware of the risks of hot weather and to take extra care of themselves and others.

Top tips

Their top tips for keeping safe in the sun include:

  • Staying hydrated: drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol.
  • Physical activity: avoid extreme physical exertion or keep it for cooler parts of the day like early morning or evening.
  • Keep your environment cool: use curtains or blinds to keep your home cool, or find the coolest part of your home, garden or outdoor space to sit in.
  • Travelling: ensure that babies, children, older people or animals are not left in closed, parked vehicles which can quickly overheat.
  • Enjoy the water safely: going for a swim can help you cool down but take care and follow local safety advice if you are going into water.
  • Avoid sunburn: try to keep out of the sun at the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm.
  • Protect yourself: apply sunscreen of at least SPF15 with UVA protection, wear UV sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and loose-fitting clothes.

Keep cool and protect ourselves

Martin McDowell, deputy chief officer at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: ““The advice might sound like common sense, but it’s good to remind ourselves to keep cool and protect ourselves, our family and friends.

“At a time when NHS services are still under pressure, taking precautions to keep ourselves safe in the sun will mean that urgent care services are kept available for those who need them most.

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Everyone loves to enjoy the great British summer, but it’s important to remember that hot weather can pose health risks for some people.

“Remember to keep an eye on any friends, family or neighbours who may be more vulnerable to the heat, such as older people, those with underlying health conditions and very young children.”

During the hot weather, residents are also encouraged to seek medical if they need it by contacting NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk  or by calling 111 to help them reach the best NHS service for their need.

To find out about the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke and when to get help, visit: NHS Live Well.

Tackling loneliness in Sefton this Mental Health Awareness Week

Leaders in Sefton are aiming to break the stigma of loneliness during Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), by encouraging residents to open up and talk about their experiences of loneliness and how it impacts their mental health.

Long-term loneliness is closely linked to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and isolation from loved ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard for many people and those with mental health issues have seen them worsen over the last year or so. Often people feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about feelings of loneliness and how it is affecting their mental health and wellbeing.

Local leaders from Sefton Council and the NHS in Sefton are using Mental Health Awareness Week as an opportunity to encourage conversations around loneliness. They are taking to social media using the hashtag #SeftonInMind to share information on support services in Sefton that are available to all residents to support them with their mental health, feelings of loneliness, or to offer a listening ear to anyone who just needs to talk.

Fiona Taylor, chief officer of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“Now more than ever, many of us may recognise the feelings of loneliness and isolation, but the NHS and our support services in Sefton are here to help our residents during Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond.

“We may feel embarrassed to talk about our feelings but it’s time to break the stigma and start the conversation. You’d be surprised when you open up to others, how often you will hear ‘I’ve been there’.”

Cllr Ian Moncur, cabinet member for health and wellbeing said:

“If you’ve been feeling lonely and your mental health is suffering, you are not alone. This week is a great opportunity to reach out and talk to a friend or family member, or get help from one of our support services in Sefton.

“We can also all help to tackle loneliness in our local areas by reaching out to those who may be at more risk of isolation, such as elderly people, unpaid carers and those in our LGBTQ+ community. Just starting a conversation can really help to lift someone’s spirits and give some much needed social connection.”

To find information on mental health support services in Sefton during Mental Health Awareness Week, you can search for the hashtag #SeftonInMind or follow the Sefton Council, NHS South Sefton CCG, and NHS Southport and Formby CCG social media channels.

You can also find a list of mental health support services for adults in Sefton at: southseftonccg.nhs.uk/mental-health-support or mental health support service for children and young people at: southseftonccg.nhs.uk/mental-health-support-children.

Mental Health Awareness Week is organised every year by the Mental Health Foundation as an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. Find out more about the event at: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week.

Getting healthcare help in Sefton this May Bank Holiday

photo of a pharmacist and shelves of medicationsAs residents in Sefton make plans for the May bank holiday, NHS leaders are sharing advice for getting healthcare help should you become unwell.

Services like pharmacies, walk in centres and GP practices may not be open on bank holiday Monday (2nd May), so residents are advised to plan ahead to know how to get the help they need.

Think 111 first

People who need urgent NHS care, but it is not a 999 emergency, are advised to contact NHS 111 which is staffed by trained professionals and clinicians who will direct people to the most appropriate health service.

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “If you’re feeling unwell, there is always help and advice available from NHS 111, even on bank holidays they are there to help you.

“We should all remember to ‘think 111 first’ – you can visit 111.nhs.uk online or call 111 over the phone to get healthcare support.”

Have you got your prescriptions?

Residents are also advised to make sure they have enough supply of any medications they need by ordering their repeat prescriptions early, and getting their medicine cabinet stocked up with essentials.

Dr Pete Chamberlain, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Pharmacies may change their opening hours on bank holiday Monday, so it’s best to think ahead and get your prescriptions stocked up early on to avoid being left short.

“Your local pharmacy can also help you to stock up on essential medicines for common ailments and injuries. They are highly qualified and can give free, confidential advice on many healthcare concerns.”

Grab a jab

COVID-19 vaccinations are available for 5-11 year olds and NHS leaders in Sefton are recommending that parents and guardians get their children vaccinated as soon as they are able, to boost their immunity and increase their protection against the disease. Children aged 5-11 with no underlying health conditions will be offered two paediatric (child) doses of the vaccine, which are smaller doses than those given to people aged 12 and over.

Anyone looking to book a COVID-19 vaccine for themselves or their children over the bank holiday weekend is advised to find a nearby appointment by calling 119 or visit the National Booking Service website at: www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine

Bookable appointments are available at a range of locations in Sefton, but residents can also find opening times for nearby walk in vaccine sites by visiting www.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab, to get their vaccine with no appointment needed.

May Bank Holiday pharmacy opening times

A number of pharmacies are open on Monday 2 May. Opening times for these pharmacies can be found in the link below, but residents are advised to call their local pharmacy before travelling, to confirm that they are open at the advertised times. Information will be added to the links as more opening times come into the CCGs.

Residents can find the pharmacy times here   

Residents can also find lots of healthcare advice and services in the Sefton good health checklist, which you can view online at: southportandformbyccg.nhs.uk/good-health-checklist

 

Sefton resident urges others not to dismiss the signs of bowel cancer

Photo of Erica Squire
Erica Squire

Local resident Erica Squire has shared the story of her bowel cancer journey during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and urges others to get checked out if they spot the signs of the disease.

Treatable

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer, but it is treatable and curable if it is diagnosed at an early stage.

Erica, who lives in Sefton, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017 after attending hospital with liver pain. She was referred for a colonoscopy and five tumours were found on her liver.

She said: “My prognosis wasn’t good and I was put on palliative chemotherapy, but despite the odds I am still here, after a very long battle.”

All clear

Erica responded to her chemotherapy treatment better than expected and was referred to a specialist at Aintree Hospital after her tumours had shrunk enough to be able to operate on. In January 2018, she had part of her bowel removed and the tumours removed from her liver, followed by further chemotherapy and surgery. All of her scans to check for cancer have since been all clear.

More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms, which Erica urges other residents to look out for:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain.
  • blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids.
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.

Screening

Erica said: “When I was diagnosed I had a 10% chance of survival and I went through two rounds of chemotherapy. This had a huge impact on my mental and physical health, but this can be avoided if the disease is caught early. Everyone should go for screening as soon as they are eligible, and if you have any symptoms at all, get them checked out.

“There is a lot I have learned in hindsight. I now realise that there were signs that I ignored. I was tired a lot in the six or seven months before my diagnosis. I wasn’t yawning as though I wanted to go to bed, it was a general weariness and heaviness and I felt worried, but I dismissed it.

“I had been to the doctor the previous year when I had passed a bit of blood and she asked if it could be something superficial and I said that it could be. She offered to examine me and I said it wasn’t necessary. In hindsight I should have had it investigated further.”

Early diagnosis saves lives

Dr Debbie Harvey, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We’re urging people to be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and if any of these develop, contact your GP to get them checked out and not be embarrassed. Early diagnosis really does save lives.”

Dr Graeme Allan, clinical lead for cancer at NHS Southport and Formby CCG said: “NHS bowel cancer screening is available to everyone aged 60 or over and 56 year olds. If you are also eligible for bowel cancer screening, make sure you complete your home test every two years when it gets sent out to you.”

You can hear Erica tell her story here.

Two Sefton COVID test sites, in Crosby and Netherton, being dismantled this week

This week, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will be dismantling the former COVID testing sites at Crosby Library and Netherton Activity Centre.

Additional vehicles

Work to demobilise the sites on Wednesday 13th & Thursday 14th April is likely to mean additional vehicles around both sites, which could cause some short-term delays.

Netherton Activity Centre will remain open and Leisure Centre users are not expected to be affected by the work. Crosby Road Car Park will, however, be closed.

Both sites are scheduled to be officially handed back to Sefton Council on Tuesday 19th April.

Plan

All Sefton COVID testing sites for people with and without coronavirus symptoms were closed by 1st April in line with the Government’s ‘Living with COVID’ plan, which saw free testing for people without symptoms end.

Some people can still access free rapid lateral flow tests if they work for the NHS or in social care, are going into hospital, or if they are at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Details of groups that can still access testing and guidance can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/get-tested-for-coronavirus

People with coronavirus symptoms can book a PCR test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  or calling 119.

Symptoms

Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in adults can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature);
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours;
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste;
  • shortness of breath;
  • feeling tired or exhausted;
  • an aching body;
  • a headache;
  • a sore throat;
  • a blocked or runny nose;
  • loss of appetite;
  • diarrhoea;
  • feeling sick or being sick.

Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones, is still stressing that to be full protected from COVID, adults need to have had two jabs and a booster.

To find more local vaccination sites in Sefton, people can visit the NHS South Sefton CCG website at www.southseftonccg.nhs.uk/get-informed/latest-news/walk-in-or-book-a-covid-19-vaccine

To find out more about the COVID-19 booster vaccine, who is eligible, and to book an appointment online through the national booking system, people should visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-booster-vaccine .

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