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Flu sufferers reminded to self-treat symptoms at home - using pharmacy-bought remedies

People in the Vale of York are being reminded not to visit hospitals or their GP if they have flu - and instead treat symptoms at home using remedies from their pharmacy.

Flu symptoms can develop quite suddenly and severely, and usually include:

  • a sudden fever (a temperature of 38C or above)
  • headaches
  • aching muscles
  • a dry, chesty cough
  • sore throat
  • feeling tired and weak 

But while symptoms of flu can be severe and you might not start to feel better for a week, there’s normally no need to visit your GP for treatment as it’s a self-limiting illness, which means it will eventually go away on its own.

The NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has made a short film explaining how to look after yourself at home if you have flu. It can be watched here: https://youtu.be/rb0BVWHa7AU

Dr Andrew Phillips, a local GP and the CCG’s joint medical director, said: “There’s normally no need to see your GP if you have flu. The best place for you to be is at home, getting plenty of rest.

“Save yourself a visit to see your GP because in most cases they will simply recommend that you rest at home, keep warm, take the recommended amount of paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and relieve aches and pains, and drink plenty of water.

“Visit your local pharmacist who can offer advice on treatment and recommend remedies. Pharmacists offer many of the same services that local GPs do, but you don't need to make an appointment to see them and they are often open during evenings and weekends.”

You should call NHS 111 or see your GP if you’re worried about your baby or child’s symptoms, are aged 65 or over, are pregnant, have a long-term health condition or weakened immune symptom, or if your symptoms haven’t improved after seven days.

Also, you should seek medical advice if your symptoms become more severe or change to the point that you feel that you have an illness that isn’t flu.

People should also avoid visiting friends and family members in hospital if they have flu because it’s very contagious and easily spread to other people. They should stay away until they have been clear of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

The flu vaccine remains the best protection against flu and is free for pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, young children and those with long-term health conditions. It’s not too late to have your flu vaccine this winter – speak to your GP, midwife or nearest participating pharmacy for more information.

Dr Phillips added: “While you might not want to miss out on seeing loved ones who are staying at hospital, you could pass flu on to them, other patients and to hospital staff. Flu can close wards, which limits the amount of people who can receive treatment at any given time.

“If you are eligible for a free flu jab and haven’t already had it, you should speak to your GP, midwife or nearest participating pharmacist about having the vaccine as soon as possible."

Nominations open for General Practice Nursing Awards 2018

Does a nurse at your local GP surgery deserve special praise for the excellent healthcare they consistently provide?

You can celebrate their efforts by nominating them for the General Practice Nursing Awards 2018, which are hosted by the Yorkshire & Humber General Practice Nursing Awards Committee to recognise the skills, expertise and dedication of practice nurses in our area.

Nominations are now open to members of the public and healthcare professionals alike. The deadline for nominations is 12pm on Friday 2 February.

Nominations can be sent by email to NHSenglandGPNawards@nhs.net, while People’s Choice Award nominations can be sent by email to the same address or by post using the free post address ‘Freepost GPN Awards’.

There are eight award categories to choose from:

  • People’s Choice Award – nominate here
  • Practice Nurse of the Year – nominate here
  • Healthcare Practitioner of the Year – nominate here
  • Rising Star – nominate here
  • Practice Nurse Leadership – nominate here
  • General Practice Nurse Innovator of the Year – nominate here
  • Practice Nurse Mentor of the Year – nominate here
  • Practice Nurse Preceptor of the Year – nominate here

Nurses from the Vale of York are vying for nominations with colleagues from the wider Humber, Coast and Vale Sustainability Transformation Partnership (STP) area.

The shortlisted Humber, Coast and Vale nominees will be announced at a ceremony on Wednesday 28 February at the Mercure Hull Grange Park Hotel in Willerby, East Yorkshire.

An awards ceremony for the wider Yorkshire and Humber region will then take place in March at a date and venue yet to be confirmed.

Michelle Carrington, NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Executive Director of Quality and Nursing, said: “The General Practice Nursing Awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the important contribution practice nurses provide to patients, families and carers across the Vale of York.

“These new awards are specific to this group of nurses to ensure equity of recognition and a chance to shine. If you wish to nominate a practice nurse for any of the varied awards please take a few moments to do so and give them the recognition they deserve."

An extra 4,000 GP appointments available for Vale of York registered patients

Vale of York residents that are registered with a GP will benefit from extra GP appointments over the festive period and up to the middle of January 2018.

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has worked with local GPs to create extra GP appointments at its member practices.

The appointments are for patients who have an illness that won’t go away and are unable to see their GP during normal opening hours.

Dr Andrew Phillips, a local GP and Joint Medical Director at the CCG said: “Thanks to national funding and collaborative work with local GP practices, an extra 4,000 GP appointments will be available in the Vale of York.

“Local people have told us that they need more GP appointments and our collaboration with member practices means that we are able to deliver this for them as part of our winter plans that also include providing online GP advice for common illnesses and ailments.”

“The extra appointment slots form part of local work to help the community to stay well over the winter period and it is hoped that these will reduce pressure on other health services and partners too.

“Individual GP practices are offering extra appointments and patients are asked to check with their own GP surgery for the times these will be available.”

Our online GP advice for common illnesses and ailments is available at www.valeofyorkccg.nhs.uk/winter

Local GPs create videos to help self-treat common illnesses and ailments this winter

A group of local GPs have starred in a series of educational videos designed to help people in the Vale of York self-treat common illnesses such as cold and flu at home.

The bite-size videos were created as part of the Vale of York’s Stay Well This Winter campaign, a Vale of York-specific version of the nationwide Stay Well This Winter initiative.

Stay Well This Winter has been launched to encourage people to self-treat minor illnesses and ailments at home, saving them a trip to see their GP in the process.

GPs from York Medical Group and Priory Medical Group appeared in front of the camera to explain how to treat common illnesses and ailments using over-the-counter remedies available at pharmacies.

The videos cover the following topics:

  • Medicine cabinet essentials
  • Cold and flu
  • Coughs
  • Sore throats
  • Ear infections
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sinusitis
  • Viral infections
  • Musculosketal pain
  • Anxiety and low mood
  • Sleep disorders
  • Fatigue

The videos can be viewed on the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Stay Well This Winter page at www.valeofyorkccg.nhs.uk/winter or on the CCG’s YouTube account at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b0BjeDXbcc

Many illnesses are self-limiting, meaning they will eventually clear up on their own, so you don’t need to see your GP for treatment. They can be treated at home using over-the-counter products that are available from your local pharmacy.

Dr Andrew Field, a GP and partner at York Medical Group, said: “As part of the local-focused Stay Well This Winter campaign a few GPs and I produced around a dozen videos to help people self-treat a range of common illnesses, which are especially prevalent during winter.

“These videos provide easy-to-follow practical advice about how to treat these illnesses with over-the-counter remedies, and they can be viewed while resting up at home because probably the last thing you want to do when poorly is venture outside.”

Dr Victoria Middleton, a GP and partner at Priory Medical Group, said: “The videos contain the advice your GP would provide during a face-to-face consultation, so by following the advice in these videos, in effect, you’re saving yourself a trip to see your GP when you’re unwell.

“Of course you should make an appointment to see your GP if you have an illness or injury that won’t go away. Please call NHS 111 if you have a condition that needs treatment quickly, or seek emergency treatment if you have a serious or life-threatening illness or injury.”

Ends

Stock up before the Christmas holidays to ensure you Stay Well This Winter

Vale of York residents are being advised to stock up on over-the-counter remedies, food and knowledge to ensure they ‘Stay Well This Winter’ during the Christmas and new year holiday season.

A Vale of York-specific version of the nationwide Stay Well This Winter initiative has been launched to encourage people to self-treat minor illnesses and ailments at home, saving them a trip to see their GP in the process.

Vale of York GPs, in partnership with local NHS and public and voluntary sector organisations, have developed a suite of useful information to help people keep well during the upcoming holiday season and throughout winter. 

The topics include:

  • Self-care treatments
  • General advice about staying well over winter
  • The flu vaccine
  • Norovirus
  • Pharmacy opening hours over Christmas and new year
  • Pathways to more information (e.g. NHS Choices)

Stock up on over-the-counter remedies and ensure you have enough prescription medicine

Many illnesses are self-limiting, meaning they will eventually clear up on their own, so you don’t need to see your GP for treatment. They can be treated at home using over-the-counter products that are available from your local pharmacy.

Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet is always a good idea so that you’re well prepared for when you do become unwell, and even more so during the Christmas period when access to your GP might be limited.

You might want to keep an adequate supply of:

  • Paracetamol and Ibuprofen
  • Decongestants
  • Cough medicines and throat lozenges
  • Antihistamines
  • Heartburn and indigestion medicine
  • Anti-diarrhoea
  • Antiseptic cream/wipes 

Also be sure to order and collect any prescriptions in good time before the Christmas holidays to ensure you don’t run out of medicine over the festive season.

Stock up on knowledge (pharmacy and GP weekend and bank holiday opening times)

Make sure you know when your local pharmacy is open at weekends and over the Christmas holidays.

Pharmacists can provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses such as colds, flu, minor rashes and pain relief. They can also help answer any questions you may have about the medication you are taking.

A selection of pharmacies in the Vale of York area will be open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day so find out which one is nearest to you. This information can be found at www.valeoforkccg.nhs.uk/winter.

Some GP surgeries are offering evening and weekend appointments. Be sure to check with your registered GP to determine whether this is a service that they offer.

But please note that pharmacies do provide many of the same services that your GP does. They don’t require you to book an appointment and are often open late and on weekends, when your GP surgery might be closed.

Stock up on food and essentials (to keep you going when unwell)

Some illnesses can leave you feeling under the weather for up to six weeks so it’s advisable to stock up on food and other household essentials to keep you going if you do succumb to illness over the winter months.

The last thing you’ll want to do when poorly is venture out in the cold to buy food and other provisions, so make sure you have a variety of plain foods such as soup, bread, pasta and rice.

Dr Andrew Phillips, a local GP and the CCG’s joint medical director, said: “The last thing you want is for your Christmas to be ruined by illness so be sure to stock up on over-the-counter remedies to help alleviate symptoms of illness before you succumb to them.

“Be sure to order and collect any prescriptions you may need over the holidays in good time before Christmas, and make a note of when your local pharmacy and GP surgery will be open over the festive period.

“Lastly, it pays to have a good stock of food to save you having to go to the shops when you’re feeling poorly.”

Vale of York residents encouraged to use pharmacies and NHS 111 for non-life threatening illnesses over Christmas

Vale of York residents are being encouraged to take advantage of services offered by pharmacies or the NHS 111 helpline if they’re suffering from non-life threatening illnesses or injuries over the Christmas holidays.

While all GP surgeries in the Vale of York will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, some pharmacies will be open on these public holidays and can offer treatments and free advice on common illnesses and ailments, including colds, flu, minor rashes and pain relief.

Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who can provide many of the same services that GPs do, but on a walk-in basis, meaning you don’t need to book an appointment to see them.

They can also answer questions you might have about any medication you’re taking and, if they can't help, they'll let you know whether or not you need to see a doctor or where else you could get the best treatment.

Below is a comprehensive timetable showing which Vale of York pharmacies (in York, Selby and Pickering) are open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and their opening times.

Dr Shaun O’Connell, local GP and joint medical director at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Pharmacists have trained for five years and can offer expert advice on lots of minor ailments and conditions. They also perform health checks, screenings and treat minor injuries and infections.

“More importantly, because they offer many of the same services that local GPs do, you don't need to make an appointment to see them. Using pharmacies also helps to take the pressure off A&E departments, freeing up staff there for real emergencies.”

The free-to-call NHS 111 helpline, meanwhile, is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. When you call you speak to a highly-trained adviser, who is supported by healthcare professionals, and they will direct you to the most appropriate medical care.

You should use the NHS 111 service if you urgently need medical help or advice when it is not a life-threatening situation.

Meanwhile, residents are being encouraged to make sure they order and collect their prescriptions in good time before the Christmas holidays to ensure they don’t run out of medicine over the festive season. Our Stay Well This Winter page gives details of the pharmacies that are open over the festive period. Go to www.valeofyorkccg.nhs.uk/winter. 

Not having enough prescriptions during the Christmas holidays, when GP surgeries and pharmacies might be closed or have limited opening hours, could have serious consequences for people who use medication to control long-term health conditions.

Dr O’Connell said: “With so much going on in the run-up to Christmas it can be easy to overlook something as routine as ordering your repeat prescription, but please put it on your pre-Christmas to-do list to ensure you don’t forget.

“Please order any repeat prescriptions you need in plenty of time to ensure an adequate supply over the holidays as your GP surgery will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year, and could have limited opening hours in between.”

Busting the most common myths about flu and the flu vaccine

The most effective way to protect yourself from flu every year is to have the flu jab but, be that as it may, many people remain reluctant to roll up their sleeves.

Many decline the vaccination because they believe it will give them flu, or believe some of the other myths about flu which do the rounds year after year.

With that in mind, NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has put together this article to separate flu fact from flu fiction to help you stay well this winter.

Myth one: The flu vaccine will give me flu

Let’s start with the most common misconception, that you’ll get the flu when you have the seasonal flu vaccine.

This is not true. The adult flu vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses, which means the vaccine can’t give you flu.

You might have a sore arm after having the flu jab, while some people experience a slight temperature and aching muscles for a few days afterwards. Other reactions can occur, but only in rare cases.

WATCH Stay Well This Winter: The flu vaccine video https://youtu.be/0bwa47lKCBs

Myth two: I had my flu vaccine last year so I’m already protected

You need to have a flu jab every year, as the antibodies that protect you from flu decline over time, and flu strains can also change from year to year.

Also, it’s worth remembering that it may take 10 to 14 days for your immunity to build up fully after you have had the flu vaccine.

Myth three: I can’t have the flu vaccine because I’m pregnant

On the contrary, it is important to have the flu jab if you’re pregnant because it will protect you and your baby. The vaccine is safe to have at any stage of pregnancy.

Pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, if they get flu.
It could also cause your baby to be born prematurely or underweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.

WATCH Having the flu jab during pregnancy video https://youtu.be/y2yduWwJvGY

Myth four: I’ve had flu recently so I don’t need to be vaccinated

You need to have a flu jab even if you’ve already had flu this winter.

Flu is caused by several viruses and the immunity your body has naturally developed after having flu will only protect against one of these strains.

Also, what you were laid low by might not necessarily have been flu.

Myth five: Flu is just like having a heavy cold

While colds and flu share some similar symptoms (eg: blocked nose, sore throat, high temperature), make no mistake: a bad bout of flu is much worse than a cold.

Colds cause more nasal problems than flu, while fever, fatigue and muscle aches are more likely and more severe with flu. If you get complications caused by flu, you could become seriously ill and have to go to hospital.

Whereas cold symptoms normally develop over one or two days, flu symptoms come on suddenly and sometimes severely. 

Cold sufferers usually begin to feel better after a couple of days while it takes around a week to recover from flu, although sufferers might feel tired for much longer.

Myth six: Flu can be treated with antibiotics

Antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infections, but aren't effective in combatting viral infections like the flu. That said, a bacterial infection may occur as a result of having the flu, in which case you may be given antibiotics.

You can take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower your temperature and relieve aches.

Myth seven: Vitamin C can protect against flu

While vitamin C helps to keep cells healthy and maintain healthy skin and bones, there’s no evidence to suggest it can protect against flu.

Myth eight: It’s too late to have the flu jab this year

It’s best to have the flu vaccination as soon as it’s available (normally October or November) but you can have it later in the winter. The adage ‘better late than never’ rings true here, but it’s better to be vaccinated as early as possible.

Myth nine: Children can’t have the flu vaccination

Flu can be very unpleasant for children but the good news is that they can have the flu vaccine.

The nasal spray vaccine is free for children aged two or three, as well as children in reception class and years one to four. Children aged two to 17 with long-term health conditions are also eligible.

Myth 10: The flu vaccine won’t protect me against swine flu

This year’s flu vaccine protects against H1N1 swine flu virus, as well as two other flu viruses. It has been designed to protect against swine flu because public health experts expect it to be circulating this year.

A GP’s view: Dr Andrew Phillips, a local GP and joint medical director at the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The flu vaccine is free for pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, young children and people with certain long-term health conditions. If you’re eligible but haven’t already had your free flu jab, get it as soon as possible.

“It only takes a few minutes to be vaccinated and is relatively painless. It’s free because you need it. Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch if they aren't protected, and it can be a really serious illness for some people.”

Visit www.nhs.uk/flu for more information

Local Partner in Care shortlisted for brace of awards

Local healthcare commissioners have congratulated one of its Partners in Care after it was shortlisted for two 2017 Caring UK Awards.

Fulford Nursing Home, which cares for 28 residents, has been nominated in the Care Team of the Year and Management Team of the Year categories. The Heslington Road care home is no stranger to accolades, having scooped a Healthwatch York Make a Difference Award last year.

Elizabeth Hancock, the home’s business manager, said: “We’re entrusted every day to look after very important people; they’re someone’s relation – mums, dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters – so to be recognised for the work that we do just makes it even more special because our staff give all of themselves every day.

“To have a good story like this gives everyone (at Fulford Nursing Home) a spring in their step. Everybody wants to do better, we’re looking to improve and this was a reward for their hard work year on year.”

As one of the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s Partners in Care, Fulford Nursing Home recently worked with the CCG’s Quality and Patient Experience Team to adopt safety huddles that will help to prevent falls and pressure ulcers among its residents.

The huddles are quick-fire daily meetings that involve every staff member coming together for a short period to discuss which residents require particular attention.

The home, which has been running for 27 years, has also collaborated with the CCG to promote good hydration as part of NHS England’s React to Red initiative.

Elizabeth added: “These meetings involve the chef, the handyman, everyone. Every member of our staff has input into these meetings because what the handyman might notice, the nurse might not and vice versa.

“We have a good relationship with the team at the CCG and City of York Council. We make progress by working together well and that’s how we stay relevant. We’re the last family-run nursing home in York and that is because we keep those relationships and we’re willing to have a go and work together.”

Michelle Carrington, the CCG’s Chief Nurse and Executive Lead for Quality and Patient Experience, said: “We are thrilled that Fulford Nursing Home has been recognised for its excellence in the form of shortlisting for two 2017 Caring UK Awards.

“We work closely with care homes across the Vale of York via our Partners in Care programme. The time and energy working with our partners and the effort put in day after day by the home’s staff has to be commended. Everyone at the CCG hopes that they’re victorious on 8 December at an event which takes place in their home city.”

The inaugural 2017 Caring UK Awards will be held at York’s National Railway Museum on Friday 8 December and celebrates excellence throughout the care industry across the UK.