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Extra cervical screening appointments available in Sefton

Statement from Chief Nurse Chrissie Cooke
Statement on Cervical Cancer Prevention Week from Chief Nurse Chrissie Cooke Chrissie Cooke

With Cervical Cancer Prevention Week starting on Monday, Sefton’s health leaders want to make sure even more people with a cervix get screened to protect themselves against cervical cancer.

Across the Borough, nearly ¾ of women aged 25-49 have had a cervical screening test – also known as a smear test – within the last three-and-a-half years.

Anyone with a cervix aged 25-64 is invited regularly for cervical screening by letter under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. Screening helps detect abnormalities within the cervix that could, if left untreated, develop into cervical cancer.

Encouragingly, the number of people in this age group in Sefton attending these appointments in the last year has risen slightly, compared with a 6.8% drop-off nationally.

Chrissie Cooke, chief nurse for NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Southport and Formby CCG, said: “It’s really positive that more women in Sefton are getting cervical screening, but there is still more to do. It’s important you attend screening when you’re invited; and encourage the other women and people with a cervix in your life to do the same.

“Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is a great opportunity to talk about screening, understand the symptoms of cervical cancer, and to book that appointment you may have been putting off. We have added extra appointment slots to patients who may struggle to attend appointments during the working week. Your health matters – book your screening today.”

Dr Gustavo Berni, local GP and medical director from the South Sefton GP Federation, said: “At our practice, 94% of all eligible patients are screened for cervical cancer. Our extended 7-day GP service offers appointments at evenings and weekends, so you can book a time that works for you.

“If you are worried about going for screening due to coronavirus, speak to your GP surgery about your questions or concerns. Since the pandemic, all GP surgeries have put increased infection control measures in place, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We also know that cervical screening may be a little uncomfortable, but those few minutes could save your life. You can request a female nurse or doctor, and we encourage you to discuss any concerns with our staff beforehand.”

Dr Abdul Zubairu, local GP and medical director from the Southport and Formby GP Federation, said: “Having cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer. It isn’t a test for cancer, it is a test that helps prevent cancer. Make sure to book an appointment with your GP practice when you receive your letter.

“We also have nurse appointment slots for cervical screening at evenings and weekends as part of our 7-day GP service. Simply contact your GP practice in the usual way to make an appointment in this service.

“If you have symptoms such as bleeding between periods, pain after sex, changes to vaginal discharge or unexplained lower back or pelvic pain, please speak to your GP.”

For more information about cervical screening and cervical cancer, visit:

Liverpool City Region’s leaders urge those working during lockdown to get SMART tested

People who must risk leaving their homes and mixing with others during lockdown are being urged to keep getting repeated tests for Covid-19 within the Liverpool City Region.

The successful Liverpool pilot to deliver SMART testing was rolled-out across the City Region just before Christmas; to target everyone in the area and find positive people who were not showing symptoms.

However, with a national lockdown in place and most people urged to stay home, the 20 non-symptomatic sites across the City Region are now being used to target key workers, and those who have to mix with others because of either paid, or unpaid, caring commitments.

Although people often see key workers as emergency or “blue light” staff the LCR pilot is aimed at everyone who has to continue mixing because of their job role. This includes both public and private sector workers such as essential shop and supermarket staff, taxi drivers, postal workers and many other key services that we continue to rely on during lockdown.

The leaders of the six City Region Local Authorities and Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, are urging people in such roles to continue coming forward for the rapid test.

“SMART” testing refers to Systematic, Meaningful, Asymptomatic, Repeated Testing, and around 250,000 people have now been tested as part of the pilot. Repeatedly testing those who have no symptoms, in a targeted way, has helped to keep infection numbers lower than many other areas in the North West.

Everyone must continue to be vigilant however as the new variant of Covid-19 is spread more easily than the first. This means that staying home if you can, maintaining a safe distance from others, washing your hands and avoiding touching your face are more important than ever.

Anyone who must mix with others during lockdown, for legitimate work or care reasons, can simply turn-up for rapid, regular and free testing without having symptoms of Covid-19. People taking the test usually get their results within the hour.

In addition to the City Region testing facilities, a new non-symptomatic test centre has also been set-up in Cheshire.

All six Local Authorities in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral) are taking part in the pilot programme.

In a joint statement, the leaders of the six City region Local Authorities, the Metro Mayor, and Acting Mayor of Liverpool, said: “The last thing any of us wanted to see in the New Year was another national lockdown. However, we have seen the figures, showing the number of people contracting the virus and the number of people now in hospital as a result of Covid-19.

“Sadly, we have also seen the number of deaths to Covid-19 increase as well. So, we would urge everyone to stay at home where they can and continue to get the basics of hands, space, face, right.

“There are of course many heroes who must continue to work throughout a lockdown, and these are not just contained to health and emergency workers. We want to ensure that, with this opportunity to carry out free, repeated, and rapid testing in the City Region, that we encourage as many of those people to come forward.

“We have people who work in essential retail, schools, nursing homes, local authorities and transport, and many more besides, who are keeping our vital services running throughout this national lockdown.

“We want to make sure that they are as protected as possible while helping us to continue with the essential services and provisions we need. Our thanks go to everyone who risks their own health to keep providing these services and do everything we can to keep them safe and keep them getting tested.”

Cllr Ian Maher
Leader of Sefton Council

Cllr Rob Polhill
Leader of Halton Council

Cllr Graham Morgan
Leader of Knowsley Council

Cllr David Baines
Leader of St Helens Council

Cllr Janette Williamson
Leader of Wirral Council

Steve Rotheram
Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region

Wendy Simon
Acting Mayor of Liverpool

Executive Director of Sefton Council, Andrea Watts, who is helping to co-ordinate the LCR testing pilot, added: “SMART is a huge opportunity for the Liverpool City Region and I’ve no doubt that we can continue to identify key workers and carers who may be Covid positive without showing symptoms throughout the lockdown.

“Targeted repeat testing, two or three times a week, of these groups can make a real difference to the way we live-through and exit out of lockdown while the roll out the vaccine continues.

“Together, we can keep testing those key workers who do not have symptoms – while of course still being extra cautious around ensuring we do the basics – hands, space, face.”

For more information on when and how testing is available in Sefton, and an interactive map of non-symptomatic testing locations, please go to the Sefton Council website or go to www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk

#LetsGetTested
#LetsGetVaccinated

Reassurance and guidance to Sefton’s parents and carers                                     

Sefton’s Director of Children’s Services Vicky Buchanan and Director of Public Health Margaret Jones have written a letter of reassurance and guidance to parents and carers across the borough.                                                                    

Dear Parents and Carers

As you are fully aware the Prime Minister announced a full lockdown which meant that all schools were closed except for vulnerable children and critical worker children. This was not the start for the year that we wanted as we hoped that all children and young people would be in school by the 18th January at the very latest.

We need to drive down the infection rates in Sefton and indeed the whole country so that we are all safe and secure in returning to everyday life. In order to do that it is crucial we all follow the government guidance of staying home unless absolutely necessary. We need everyone to follow this guidance to protect not only the NHS but also ourselves, our families and our friends. Hopefully, with the roll out of the vaccine and keeping to the guidance this will happen sooner rather than later. Government guidance for schools and for parents and carers has been very clear about who should access places in schools. ‘Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.’ Full guidance for parents and carers can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision 

We would ask that if you can, as the guidance says keep your child at home then please do so. Schools are under increasing pressure to manage the number of children and young people in school due to staff not being able to attend school due to covid issues. Schools may therefore as a last resort have to consider prioritising places for vulnerable children, health workers and school staff. Schools will only do this after considering their Risk Assessment and consultation with their governing body and Sefton Council. This will be continually reviewed as situations change throughout this current lockdown. Your school will keep you informed as to what is happening. Please do discuss any concerns with your school. Alongside having children in school, schools are providing high quality remote learning for those at home.

As you can imagine this is placing a very heavy burden on staff to ensure that everyone is catered for. Please do remember that all school situations are different and this impacts on how a school will deliver remote learning. There are many different ways that this can be delivered and no one way is the only way.

Some schools may have the facilities to deliver ‘live’ lessons and other may not be able to do so, that does not mean that their offer is any less effective. Please do work with your school to support your child and if you do have any worries then do discuss with the school. All our schools have worked incredibly hard to ensure that what they are offering is helping our children and young people to carry on learning in very difficult circumstances. If you are struggling with accessing online learning please do speak to your school.

We would ask that you continue to encourage your children to follow the advice of Hands, Face, Space.

Our schools will continue to reinforce this message as well as ensuring social distancing, good ventilation, use of face coverings as appropriate, and ensuring people with symptoms do not attend. These remain

the most effective ways to reduce the spread of the virus, even with rapid testing in place within schools. However, as parents and carers you could further support by not sending children to school unless necessary – stay at home; please don’t bring children to school if they are of an age when they can walk there on their ownIf you need to take your child to school please observe hands, face, space, wear a face covering and don’t stand around the playground or school gates. We want to try and minimise people mixing.

We would ask that you continue to work with and support our schools with the same and consideration you have done so throughout this pandemic.

VICKY BUCHANAN                                                                     MARGARET JONES

DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN’S SERVICES                             DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH

 

Community COVID-19 vaccination programme gathers pace in Sefton `

GPs, working together with Sefton’s two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), are continuing to roll out the COVID-19 community vaccination programme across the Borough.

Vaccinations, which began at the end of December, will gather pace over the coming weeks. People who are most at risk of COVID-19 or aged over 80, as well as care home staff and residents will be invited for their immunisation first.

Challenge

This is the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has ever undertaken. It is a huge challenge and the local NHS is working hard to overcome any logistical issues as they may arise.  So, the exact weekly roll-out of the programme will be largely shaped by the vaccine supply from the manufacturers.

Not all local premises or surgeries can become community vaccination centres, as they need to meet the strict clinical and logistical requirements of the programme. So, when it is your turn to be vaccinated, be prepared that it may not be at your GP practice or another nearby venue.

The NHS has a clear vaccine delivery plan but it will take some time for GP practices to work through the number of people aged over 80 that need to be contacted.

Patience

So, GP practices and the CCGs are asking everyone to be patient and until people are fully vaccinated with two doses, they are reminded to follow the current restrictions and guidance and play their part by following these steps:

  • Do not contact your GP practice or the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you
  • When we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments
  • Please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives by socially distancing, wearing a mask or face covering and washing your hands regularly.

The roll out of the programme in community vaccinations centres is in addition to hospital immunisation hubs, which began operating in December.

Working together

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton CCG, explained: “Our GP practices are working together in groups to deliver vaccinations as quickly as possible to their patients aged over 80 years and to invite them into a community centre to be immunised safely.

“Importantly, in the meantime, we are asking everyone not to contact their GP practice or another NHS organisation to ask for their vaccination – or to request one for a member of their household or their carer.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, Chair NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “We do understand that people will be keen to know when they will receive their vaccines. Each of us will receive an invite when it is our turn to be vaccinated, either by letter or a phone call.

“You may know others aged over 80 who have been invited for their vaccination already, however, not all areas of Sefton could start vaccinating at the same time, so not everyone has been contacted yet, but we will get to you.”

Warning

People expecting to be contacted for a vaccination are being warned about possible scam calls from fraudsters. Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, has received reports from members of the public who have been sent text messages claiming to be from the NHS offering them the chance to sign up for vaccinations for a fee.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: “Remember, the vaccine is only available on the NHS and is free of charge. The NHS will never ask you for details about your bank account or to pay for the vaccine. If you receive an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details, this is a scam.”

Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

 

Public Health leaders urging public to stay at home, to fight COVID and reduce extreme pressure on hospitals

Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones has joined her colleagues across the region to urge people to follow by the latest lockdown rules and stay at home.

The plea from Directors of Public Health, who are leading the local public health response to COVID, comes as COVID cases have alarmingly increased in communities putting NHS hospitals under extreme pressure.

Essential reasons

Under the rules, people are strongly requested to stay at home and only leave the house for essential reasons such as getting a COVID test, food shopping, work, education, exercise or helping someone vulnerable. A full list of what is permitted is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Ian Ashworth, current Chair of the Cheshire & Merseyside Directors of Public Health Board said, “The next few weeks are going to be extremely difficult and it will be some time until we see the impact of the lockdown take effect. People need to stay at home as much as possible. Only shop when necessary. Exercise away from other people. If you cannot work from home and have a symptom free test centre in your area, get tested regularly so you can self-isolate before symptoms show. We are working hard with health and government partners to speed up and unblock barriers to the rollout of the vaccine for the most vulnerable groups but this will not happen overnight. We now have a number of licensed vaccines which will mean more vaccines becoming available locally. In the meantime, we need people to double their efforts to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

Vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccination programme has seen over a million vulnerable people and those that care for them vaccinated so far. Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and an effective vaccine is the best way to protect people from COVID. Members of the public will be invited by the NHS when it’s their turn for a vaccination and it is important that everyone who is offered the vaccine takes it to protect themselves and others. Directors urge those waiting for their vaccine to be patient and not contact the NHS or their GP surgery as it will take time for the vaccine to be rolled out to all priority groups.

If residents follow the rules and stay at home, then lockdown restrictions will end sooner and people can look forward to better times ahead. Directors would like to thank everyone who has been doing their bit for so long, and understand they desperately wish to see an end to the restrictions, but it’s more important than ever that people now put in that extra effort to keep friends, family and communities safe.

Symptoms

If you develop symptoms of COVID (fever, new continuous cough or loss/change of taste or smell) you can obtain a test by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119. If your test is positive you must follow the guidance including self-isolating immediately. More information on self-isolating can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

Anyone needing support during this difficult time should visit www.kindtoyourmind.org which has details of 24/7 crisis helplines and resources to help mental wellbeing.

Find out more information about COVID-19 in Sefton.

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